David Koch masks his role as one of the top financiers of the Tea Party movement and pro-polluter front groups by loudly tacking his name to more laudable charities, like the New York city ballet. Koch, who has professed his devotion to “The Nutcracker” ballet performance by Alexei Ratmansky, made a matching grant of $2.5 million so that it could go on this season. At a special opening of the performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music shortly before Christmas, Koch made an appearance to talk about his donation. The Financial Times’ John Gapper was in the audience and witnessed a crowd of “harried Brooklyn moms and salivating balletomanes” erupting in boos at the sight of the Tea Party billionaire:
The excitement started even before the show when David H. Koch, the co-owner of Koch Industries, the largest privately-own industrial conglomerate in the US, came out on stage to talk about his $2.5m sponsorship of the production. Most people applauded but there were also boos from near where I sat in the balcony, followed by an angry debate in the row in front of me, with one of the booers declaring “he’s an evil man” and a couple next to her telling her to “shut up” and to leave the theatre. [...] Once Mr Koch had left the stage, the booing stopped and the ballet started.
David and his brother Charles are among the top ten richest men in America through their co-ownership of Koch Industries, the sprawling private conglomerate that includes oil refineries and pipelines, consumer goods, a financial derivatives practice, chemical interests, timber, shipping, and coal. Koch Industries, one of the worst air polluters in America, has lobbied to eviscerate the EPA, repeal health reform, and Koch front groups fight every day to cut government spending on programs for the poor and middle class. However, Koch says he “welcome[s]” taxpayer money for his ballet performances.