One of Mason’s biggest donors continues its operations in Russia
BY BRAD BYRNE, NEWS EDITOR
In a statement on March 16, President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson said that Koch Industries currently has about 600 workers at its Guardian Industries subsidiary. He went on to state that Koch Industries would not exit Russia because doing so would put its “employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good.”
Mason has grown into the major public university it is today because of millions of dollars in donations from conservative-leaning donors like the Charles Koch Foundation, Koch Industries is part of the Koch conglomerate. In documents from the George Mason University Foundation Inc., both Koch brothers have had seats on a committee to pick candidates for a professorship they funded in the past.
According to the New York Times, in March 2016, the foundation was found to be influencing hiring practices at the Antoin Scalia Law School from the Federalist Society, a conservative society. This case later went to the Virginia State Court in 2019 in the case of Transparent GMU vs George Mason Univ., where it was ruled that Mason and the Charles Koch Foundation did not have to turn over records to students about donors
Koch Industries has been also arguing against sanctions against Russia through groups like Stand Together, a nonprofit founded by Koch, and other Koch influenced groups like the American Institute for Economic Research and Concerned Veterans for America.
The Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded Mason research center, which, according to its website, is the “world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.” They declined to comment on Koch Industries continuing its operations in Russia.
Tim Gibson, an associate professor in the Department of Communications at Mason, has been outspoken about the Joch Foundation before.
He commented on the matter, “”Koch Industries’ decision to stay in Russia is fairly consistent with the Koch family’s political beliefs. They are libertarians, and their definition of freedom mostly has to do with property.” said Gibson.
Dr. Bethany Letiecq, an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development, has also been outspoken before about the Koch Foundation’s involvement in Mason.
She gave her thoughts on Koch Industries continuing its operations in Russia, “It is disturbing to say the least that our university–a public institution of higher education–continues to accept millions of dollars annually from the Charles Koch Foundation given the antigovernment, antitax, anti-climate change, anti-immigrant, and anti-public education agenda of Charles Koch. That Koch Industries refuses to cease operations in Russia is further reason to stop accepting any more funds from CKF and purge our university of his influence full stop. ”
Koch Industries did not respond to requests for comment.