Why Charles Koch Joins Liberals To Fight ‘Overcriminalization of America”


Charles Koch, described by Politico as “the nerdy multibillionaire from Wichita who has become known as the Rasputin of the American Right,” explains why he was getting into bed—politically speaking—with people like George Soros and Cory Booker, the liberal black senator and former mayor of beleaguered Newark. The apparatus of foundations, advocacy groups, corporations and think tanks that Koch oversees is busy launching initiatives aimed at reeling in the “criminal justice-industrial complex.” Koch is helping pull together a new coalition of left-right advocacy groups, including the Hillary Clinton-aligned Center for American Progress, to fight the “overcriminalization of America.”

This month, Koch's general counsel, Mark Holden, is joining Van Jones, a former Obama administration official who took the liberal side on CNN's since-canceled “Crossfire,” in mounting the #Cut50 Bipartisan Summit, which will explore strategies for reducing the U.S. incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next decade. What changed things for him, says Koch, 79, was a 1995 Texas case against Koch Industries, in which prosecutors pressured a Koch employee he had fired into testifying in a criminal case against four other Koch workers, saying they had covered up a chemical-pollution infraction. Why now? Koch says the politics have changed, and “now, unlike the past, we have the opportunity to bring about real change.”

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