1999 Letter from Richard Fink to Dr. James Buchanan re Koch Leaders and Groups, including the Bill of Rights Institute

This letter from is from Richard Fink, writing as the Director of the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), to Dr. James Buchanan, a professor at George Mason University with deep ties to Charles Koch’s agenda, as detailed in Nancy MacLean’s book, Democracy in Chains.

Fink was one of the main lieutenants for Charles Koch. He was writing for the non-profit CKF at an address that was also used for Koch Industries, for both its in-house lobbying shop now known as Koch Companies Public Sector and its Political Action Committee, KochPAC, which has donated predominantly but not exclusively to GOP candidates. That is, the charity in Koch’s name was housed with his lobbyists and his electoral operations.

In the letter, Fink informs Buchanan about moves of various Koch operatives, including the staffing of a new group to advance another part of Charles Koch’s agenda, to target children with his Libertarian worldview. In the letter he notes:

"the Charles Koch Foundation has long recognized the need for a larger scale, sustained, educational effort to develop in young people a deep understanding
and appreciation of the liberty we enjoy as Americans. Consequently, we are pleased to provide seed
funding for the Bill of Rights Institute."

Fink said that Victoria Hughes was leaving CKF to create BRI with Koch money. Hughes would spend the next 11 years leading BRI and “training thousands of teachers” to teach kids about the U.S. Constitution in accordance with Charles Koch’s interpretation of it. She previously “held senior executive positions at the Heritage Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Reason Foundation, the Reagan-Bush ’84 Campaign…” She left BRI to join the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, which has the tagline: “Ashbrook creates informed patriots.”

Under Hughes, the Koch-funded BRI sought to train young minds with views about policy issues, such as the Endangered Species Act, in ways that aligned with the Koch empire. For example, one of BRI quizzes from 2001 pushed the Koch view on the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, asking kids: “If a judge closes large tracts of land, as the California judge did to protect the red-legged frog (4 million acres), should taxpayers compensate all of the builders and property-owners for the loss of use of their land?  Explain your answer.” The lessons also asked children to consider whether the Constitution should require “secondary economic consequences” or job losses if an animal or plant is protected from extinction by government action under the Endangered Species Act and more.

In the letter, Fink also noted that Kelly Young, who was then the Assistant Dean for “special projects” at the George Mason University School of Law and also the COO of Charles Koch’s Mercatus Center, was taking a new position as VP of CKI.

The letter also detailed the biography of Wayne Gable, another Koch operative who was then “the Managing Director for Federal Affairs at Koch Industries.” Fink noted that Gable was becoming the President of CKI. Before joining Charles Koch’s company, Gable was the President of GMU’s Center for Market Processes, which is now Charles Koch’s Mercatus Center. Gable was also previously the leader of Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy, which Fink also helped lead.