Union Cuts Ties to United Negro College Fund Over Kochs Donations

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 10 2014 4:58 PM

Union Cuts Ties to United Negro College Fund Over Kochs Donations

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UNCF is struggling with one, too.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Early in the afternoon, BuzzFeed's Jacob Fischler scooped one of the most dramatic skirmishes in the war between liberals and David and Charles Koch. One month ago, the United Negro College Fund announced a $25 million "Koch scholars program," funded by the company and Charles Koch's foundation, "aimed at broadening educational opportunities so that aspiring African American students can better understand how entrepreneurship, economics, and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society." 

Some predictable trolling followed. Conservatives like to point out that the Kochs have spent far more on charity and the arts over their lifetimes than they've spent on politics since 2009. Did liberals hate the Kochs so much that they'd condemn their donation to black students? Did they? Did they?

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Yes, they did. Fischler reported on a letter (delivered by hand) in which D.C.-based AFSCME cut ties with the D.C.-based UNCF. The letter is in itself remarkable, going on for ages about how taking money from the Kochs violated the UNCF's values and betrayed the civil rights movement.

Koch PR did not respond when I asked about the letter, and UNCF would only send over a statement.

"UNCF has over 100,000 donors with a wide range of views," said UNCF CEO Dr. Michael Lomax, "but they all have one thing in common: they believe in helping young students of color realize their dreams of a college education. For over 70 years we have never had a litmus test and we have asked all Americans to support our cause."

I also asked Murray's office what he thought of being held up as a symbol of institutional racism. I'll assume he's against it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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