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Roll Call

Charles Koch, Cato Institute Settle Differences

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
United Republic held a small protest in front of the Koch Industries lobbying headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., in March to voice opposition to recent moves by the billionaire Koch brothers to take over the nonpartisan Cato Institute think tank.

Charles Koch, the billionaire conservative who helped found the Cato Institute, has agreed to drop his lawsuits against the libertarian think tank, closing the doors on an embarrassing family feud.

The institute announced Monday that it had reached an agreement with the Koch brothers to install John Allison, the former chairman of BB&T, as the think tank’s new president later this year. Ed Crane, who has run the organization since its founding in 1977, will maintain a consulting and fundraising role.

David Koch, but not his brother, Charles, will serve on the board along with three other Koch appointees as well as Allison and 11 longtime members. Bob Levy will remain chairman.

“For a majority of Cato’s directors, the agreement confirms Cato’s independence and ensures that Cato is not viewed as controlled by the Kochs,” a statement from the institute read. “For Charles and David Koch, the agreement helps ensure that Cato will be a principled organization that is effective in advancing a free society.”

In March, the Koch brothers asked a federal district court in Kansas to enforce an old agreement that would give them control of the four-person shareholder group that governs the institute, as well as the authority to appoint a majority of a separate, 16-member board. A month later, they filed a second suit in the same court, seeking reversal of what they called a “board-packing scheme” designed to weaken their influence over the organization.

The Koch brothers agreed to allow that shareholders’ agreement to be dissolved.

For months, Cato scholars waged an aggressive campaign to persuade Washington’s conservative leaders to condemn the Koch brothers’ actions. Some lambasted the Kochs for attempting to take over the think tank and fold it into their empire of Republican groups, while others threatened mutiny and tendered pre-emptive resignation letters.

Today, they declared victory in an equally public fashion.

“All of us at Cato send our thanks to those of you who stood up for our independence during the past few months,” David Boaz, the executive vice president of the Cato Institute, wrote in an email to supporters Monday. “We’ll always be grateful.”

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