With the Koch brothers, it’s all about control. They reign over the largest private oil company in the U.S. with estimated revenues of $100 billion. They wield power over a sprawling network of nonprofit front groups with unbridled influence over everything from the Tea Party to economics professors at publicly funded universities. Forbes lists their personal wealth as $25 billion each. They own mansions in the toniest towns in America. And last week, in a decidedly Scrooge-esque maneuver, they filed a lawsuit against a widow who lost her husband to a stroke a mere four months ago over stock she inherited in the Cato Institute worth a measly $16.00.
The lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas (the State where Cato was incorporated and home to Charles Koch) has opened up a nasty can of worms. Unknown to the public at large, the Cato Institute, a stronghold of free market, libertarian writers and speakers, has been privately owned by a handful of men for 35 years, notwithstanding its receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations — which the wealthiest 1 percent have used as tax deductions to lower their tax tab to Uncle Sam; in itself a neat maneuver to shrink government.