New York (AFP) - Powerful US political donor David Koch, who with his brother Charles built an industrial empire and became kingmakers of conservative American politics, will retire from his company and political activities for health reasons, according to a letter obtained Tuesday by AFP.
In this message to employees of Koch Industries on Monday, Charles Koch said David, 78, has been in "declining health" since 2016 and "continues to deteriorate," so he "is no longer able to get involved in management of the company and other organizations."
"We are deeply saddened by this as we miss David's insightful questions and his many contributions to Koch Industries," the letter said.
The conglomerate, based in Wichita, Kansas, which includes chemicals, energy and finance, helped him build a fortune exceeding $50 billion, according to Forbes.
The brothers used their wealth to fund dozens of political organizations, causes and candidates, including founding the political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity to promote tax cuts, reduced regulation and fiscal responsibility from the government.
They played a pivotal role in the rise of the Tea Party movement, which some credit as a forerunner to the emergence of Donald Trump's candidacy.
However, the Koch brothers, who are supporters of free trade, also are funding a campaign against Trump's protectionist policies and tariffs on key products like steel and aluminum.