The Kochs Invade Florida State University!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 10 2011 9:45 AM

The Kochs Invade Florida State University!

Kris Hundley serves up some liberal nightmare fuel today , delving into the details of a deal between the Charles G. Koch Foundation and Florida State University's Department of Economics. In exchange for $1.5 million, an advisory committee appointed by Koch gets "to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting 'political economy and free enterprise.'"

But the deal was in place two years ago. (My headline is a bit over the top, so, sorry about that.) How'd it get attention all of a sudden? Two professors with FSU connections wrote an op-ed about it and publicized some of the details of the contract .

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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In order to preserve and safeguard the philanthropic and educational intent of the CGK Foundation … an advisory board will be created consisting of three members … chosen by CGK Foundation.

The three senior professors must come in with tenure, and FSU must continue to fund them for at least four years past the project period. 

The Advisory Board of SPSFC and EEE is allowed to review all publicly provided material submitted by applicants for the Professorship positions. 

The Advisory Board will determine which candidates qualify to receive funding.  No funding for a professorship position or any other affiliated program or position will be released without the review and approval of the Advisory Board. 

An undergraduate program will be devised and funded for $30,000 per year for three years. The committee responsible for the program will report to the Advisory Board.

Hundley cites sources who say this is unprecedented. The level of control is unusual. The goal of the donation isn't. Endowed academic positions are so prevalent that they're unextraordinary. But one point of scandalizing this when it's relatively new is to start raising questions about what comes out of FSU's economics department. It's very easy for Republicans to come out with a letter from X number of economists saying Y Obama policy will destroy freedom and drain your precious bodily fluids. But what if you can challenge the authority of those economists by saying this one or that one is just a shill for Charles G. Koch? Oh, sure, he'll be matched by lots of other economists who don't have any particular lucre convincing them that Murray Rothbard was right. But raise a couple of questions and you discredit the source.

A fun little thing about that article -- to find it, I did a quick search on the newspaper's website. It came with this ad:

The Koch pushback continues, as non-controversial donation after non-controversial donation is blown up into a controversy -- a byproduct of the brothers' new fame.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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