Charity Prez: David Brock Mischaracterized Gala Encounter Between Clinton and Koch

Hillary Clinton, David Koch
Hillary Clinton, David Koch / AP
October 1, 2015

David Brock mischaracterized an encounter between Hillary Clinton and libertarian megadonor David Koch at an event held by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), according to the president and CEO of that charity.

Brock’s new book, Killing the Messenger, devotes a full chapter to the supposedly malign influence of David Koch and his brother Charles on American politics. Brock cites an encounter between Koch and Clinton at a New York City charity event as evidence of Koch’s partisan, mean-spirited nature.

"At one such glittery event that attracted a bipartisan crowd long before Hillary announced her candidacy, I learned that Hillary had bumped into her would-be nemesis," Brock wrote. "Hillary was her gracious self; Koch, not so much. While he expressed admiration for her service as secretary of state, partisan politics, not charity, was on his mind. 'I’m going to spend a lot of money to defeat you,' Koch gruffly told her, before turning on his heel and vanishing into the crowd."

Brock does not specify where this encounter occurred. However, an article in the New York Times states that Clinton "mingled with the billionaire David H. Koch at a benefit for the Wildlife Conservation Society" in 2014. The Times did not characterize the run-in as hostile or overtly political.

Neither does WCS CEO and president Cristián Samper, who was present during the exchange.

"There was no conversation about politics and I never heard him [Koch] make any comments about campaigns," Samper said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "Mr. Koch walked over to the Clinton table after the remarks and graciously congratulated Secretary Clinton on her award and thanked her for her service as secretary of state. Chelsea Clinton joined the conversation and mentioned she was on a nonprofit hospital board with Mr. Koch's wife. The conversation turned to Mr. Koch's philanthropy and support for medical research and education."

Koch Companies spokesperson Melissa Cohlmia confirmed that Koch met Clinton at the WCS gala in 2014. She said Koch disputes Brock’s characterization of the encounter.

"His recollection is that it was a very friendly encounter," Cohlmia wrote in an email. "He was brought over to the Clintons’ table by an ambassador and he and the Clintons were laughing and complimenting each other" for supporting conservation efforts in Africa, Cohlmia said.

Brock’s book, Killing the Messenger, is a prolonged defense of the Clinton family and its belief there is a "vast right-wing conspiracy" devoted to destroying the Clintons’ political career. Brock claims right-leaning figures such as Koch, but also media outlets like the New York Times, are driving negative and unfair coverage of Clinton.

Brock writes the Kochs, who have spent hundreds of millions in support of libertarian policies in addition to cancer research and the arts, are fomenting "a mass movement of antigovernment zealots" to elect "politicians who would help them greedily line their own pockets."

He says the Kochs "have a soft spot for animals—at least, extinct animals," a claim belied by the Kochs’ support for conservation efforts like WCS.

Koch provided funding for the film "Battle for the Elephants," a one-hour special by National Geographic Television that aired on PBS.

The film was intended to "help drive awareness about the elephant crisis in Africa and to rally support to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand," according to a WCS press release.

As evidence that the Kochs hate living animals, Brock cites opposition by Koch-allied group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to a $31 million property tax increase that would have funded an expansion of the zoo in Columbus, Ohio.

AFP justified their opposition by noting that Columbus’s property tax rate was the highest in the nation according to a government report. It noted that rejecting the tax referendum would not reduce funding for the Columbus Zoo, while approving it would lead to a permanent tax hike.

"Voting NO on issue 6 will not take money away from the Columbus Zoo," read mailers by Americans for Prosperity, "but it will stop the government from taking more money away from you."

Brock’s tale about David Koch can be added to a long list of distortions and falsehoods published by the Clinton ally.

They are unlikely to affect Brock’s privileged relationship with the Clintons. Brock, a "right-wing hitman" turned  "advocate" for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, uses his well-heeled network of progressive institutions to attack conservatives and contest negative media coverage of the Clintons.