SCANDAL: David Koch Wants Rich People to Fund Cancer Research

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2011 1:43 PM

SCANDAL: David Koch Wants Rich People to Fund Cancer Research

The irony seeps through the screen in this report on David Koch at the opening of the MIT cancer research center he donated $100 million to build.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Mr. Koch warned that government spending cuts could impede cancer research. And he urged donors to fill the gap.

"The National Institutes of Health , and the National Cancer Institute in particular, are facing serious cutbacks in their funding due to the massive deficits the federal government is incurring," he said in his speech, in a tent outside the seven-story building. "If the cutbacks happen, it will significantly diminish the level of research that can be carried on at the Koch Institute. I earnestly ask you to do all you can to help maintain the superb research at the Koch Institute at its maximum level."

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Suzy Khimm draws the obvious implication -- hey, what about all the Republicans Koch helped get elected, who want to cut that funding? But I don't think this is an obvious implication. Koch is using the threat of federal funding cuts (which he implies are possibly necessary) to shake money out of private donors. This after he donated $100 million of his own. I think the possible medical harm done by Koch's companies is a problem; funding Republicans who want to free up taxpayers to replace government funds, not a problem.

(Disclosure: I worked at Reason, which is funded in part by Koch, for two years and change, ending in December 2008.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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