“My daughter, who just graduated from W.S.U., was telling me: ‘Mom, what’s here? The biggest thing you can aspire to do is work for the Koch brothers, and I don’t want to do that,’ ” said Sulma Arias, the executive director of Kansas People’s Action.
By Carl Hulse - New York Times
WICHITA, Kan. — In national politics, playing in Charles Koch’s arena can mean saturation advertising against vulnerable Democrats, calls for tax cuts, demands to roll back government regulation and bitter clashes over climate change.
Here in the windswept hometown of the Koch family and Koch Industries, playing in Charles Koch Arena means something else entirely.
“I would be hard-pressed to find two things that are more important to this community than Koch Industries and Shocker basketball,” said Gregg Marshall, coach of the Wichita State University men’s team, which packs the arena, a house that Mr. Koch restored with his donations. “They put a nice chunk of change into this building.”
Welcome to Kochville, where the family name conjures up something decidedly different from the specter raised by Democrats of secretive political operations funded by tens of millions of dollars in anonymous campaign money. For many living here in Wichita along the Arkansas River, it stands instead for well-paying jobs, extensive philanthropy like the $6 million for the arena renovation, and Kansas pride in being the headquarters of Koch Industries, the nation’s second-largest privately held company, which produces oil, fertilizer and common household items.
Outside of Kochville, the brothers Charles and David Koch, whose worth is estimated at more than $50 billion each, are ready villains. Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader, regularly skewers them on the Senate floor. Others have proposed a constitutional amendment aimed at diluting their influence. The two are even the subject of an updated documentary titled “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition.” READ MORE
Photo: The Koch Aquatic Center at the North Branch YMCA in Wichita, Kan. Photo Credit: Steve Hebert for the New York Times