David Koch to retire from billion dollar empire due to failing health

The news comes one day after the Koch's political network revealed a multimillion-campaign against Trump's tariffs

Published June 5, 2018 6:23PM (EDT)

David Koch (AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
David Koch (AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Conservative mega-donor and billionaire industrialist David Koch, executive vice president at Koch Industries, will retire from his position at the company and other Koch-affiliated groups due to health reasons, CNBC reports.

In the memo to Koch Industries employees, Charles Koch, David's elder brother, said his brother's health has continued to decline.

"David has always been a fighter and is dealing with this challenge in the same way,” the elder Koch brother wrote. "His guidance and loyalty, especially in our most troubled times, has been unwavering."

David Koch has received well wishes from a senior executive in the mogul brothers' political network. "Due to health reasons, David Koch will be resigning from the board of Americans for Prosperity Foundation," said Mark Holden, co-chairman of the Koch-backed Seminar Network, according to CNBC. "We greatly appreciate his vital role on the board and all that he has done to help us build a strong foundation for our future success. We wish him and his family well."

The company said no decision had been made on David Kochs' replacement. David will also step down from his position as chairman for Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots conservative founded by the billionaire brothers, the memo said. He will become director emeritus at Koch Industries.

Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer more than 20 years ago. Since then, he and his family foundation, along with other beneficiaries of the Koch network, have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to fighting cancer. He is also a board member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The news comes one day after the Koch-backed political network revealed a multimillion-campaign against tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed on countries like China, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. The new "pro-free trade" campaign "will include media buys, activist education, grass-roots mobilization, lobbying and policy analysis," according to CNBC.

"Trade barriers make Americas as a whole poorer and they especially harm those already disadvantaged," James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network, said in a statement to CNBC. "Trade wars hurt everyone. They trigger retaliatory tariffs from our trade partners and that raises prices on American families who need affordable access to household goods. We urge the Trump administration to abandon these tariffs."

The network has also recently moved away from focusing its efforts on championing conservative candidates and causes to advance legislation. Last week, the organization launched a seven-figure ad in an attempt to provide a permanent solution for the undocumented immigrants benefitting from the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The Koch network has recently made headlines for praising a Democratic senator, who is up for re-election in a red state. Last week, Americans for Prosperity released a digital ad thanking Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, for co-sponsoring the Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, a financial deregulation bill that will ease regulations on local and regional banks, which President Trump signed into law last month.

"This was a bipartisan effort made possible by lawmakers like Heidi Heitkamp who put politics aside to work together," said AFP President Tim Phillips in a statement. "While we don't agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing."

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By Shira Tarlo

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