Wichita Realtor Nestor Weigand said the fight has taken a toll on his friend. Charles Koch is accused of politicking to help Koch Industries make more money, but Weigand said he would make more money with silence. He could just relax, and sit back and run his empire.
When both Liz Koch and Weigand first met him in the early 1960s, Charles was a skinny young guy who read about economics night and day, and spoke about helping the world. Now hes a skinny older guy running a company with more than $115 billion a year in revenue. And he is sure now, not just that he can help people, but that hed better do it big, and do it soon.
He really believes that if good business people do not get involved as he is, that they wont have a business economy much longer, Weigand said.
President Barack Obama and Charles Kochs other enemies have underestimated what Charles has accomplished politically, Weigand said. His success in winning allies, he said, comes not from his spending but from the frustration business people feel about government, not only from taxation but from irrelevant and deadening regulations.
And its not only federal regulations, Weigand said, but also state, municipal and county regulations of all kinds. Every business person hes ever known, Weigand said, can tell nightmare stories about paperwork, delays and unconcerned inspectors who make you do unnecessary things, whether they are practical or irrelevant doesnt seem to matter. If there were more business people among Democrats, perhaps theyd better understand why many people regard Charles as heroic.
Friends and family say hes attentive and unfailingly nice. But something happens when Charles Koch gets into a competition. His friends say that when he plays, he plays hard. In a game of squash years ago, Charles injured Weigand with a hard-hit ricochet shot to the head. Charles wanted to take me to the hospital, Weigand said. Weigand said it was his own fault for not playing alertly.
In the late 1970s, schoolteacher and later Eagle columnist Bonnie Bing played a game of doubles tennis with Liz, Charles and another friend. Charles Koch rushed the net and smashed an overhead shot, accidentally hitting Bing in the mouth. Her lip swelled so big, Bing said, that she could see it growing under her nose.
What the f--- are you doing? Liz screamed. This is NOT f------ WIMBLEDON!
Thirty years later, he still apologizes. But as he does with everything, he hit that shot to win.
Losing candidates say he plays politics like that.
Dan Glickman was a Democratic member of Congress from Wichita until 1994, when he says the Kochs opposed him for supporting a BTU tax on energy. He lost to Todd Tiahrt.
I was on the receiving end of their campaign decisions, Glickman said. I viewed it as I was on their target list.
I had grown up in Wichita, and Charles and his brothers grew up there; I knew Charles, and knew David, and I had met Bill. We would go to Colorado, to Aspen, and Id meet them. And we all got along fine. We have a lot of mutual friends, actually. So I knew it wasnt personal. I never viewed it as personal. But I had voted for an energy tax, and they dont like energy taxes. So they opposed me, which was their right. And I lost the election.