Two years later, in 1996, when an ex-governors daughter-in-law named Jill Docking ran against Sam Brownback for the U.S. Senate, money got dumped into ads supporting Brownback. Docking had known and liked Charles and Liz Koch most of her life; She had played tennis with Liz. But she and her family will never forget what happened in that campaign. An outside group, Triad Management Services, tried to influence the elections without disclosing its donors. She lost.
Her husband, Tom, remembers counting six or seven television ads in one evening attacking her, one of them with dark, shadowy images, and dark voices saying that Jill is not who she says she is. Her full name appeared on the TV screen, including her Jewish maiden name: Jill Sadowsky Docking from Springfield, Mass.
The implication was that she was an East Coast Jew, Tom Docking said.
People told him robo callers were telling voters that Jill and Tom Docking were raising their children not as Christians but as heathens.
You kind of laugh at the time, he said But the ads were very effective.
Mark Holden, Koch Industries senior vice president and general counsel, said the company donated $1,000 for one to two years to Triad to help elect candidates who supported free-market ideas.
We were understanding that it would be used for legitimate purposes, proper purposes under the law, he said.
But Democrats on the Senate Governmental Affairs committee found circumstantial evidence that a trust fund supported by the Kochs gave $1 million to Triad to run attack ads to influence the outcome of 29 congressional races.
While the Senate Democrats and others claimed in 1998 that there was circumstantial evidence supporting their allegations, Ive never seen any such evidence, Holden said. Triad spent $420,000 to elect Brownback and $131,000 to re-elect Tiahrt. At the time, federal election law banned direct corporate contributions to candidates and held that voters had a right to know who was funding campaigns.
Sixteen years later, Docking says, she admires the Kochs, and says Kansans owe Charles and Liz a debt of gratitude for the millions theyve given to charity. But that political campaign is hard to forget.
It was hard for me personally, because I am a terrible politician in that way, she said. It was such a huge force against me that I couldnt help but take it personally the same way that they take it personally, right? Its painful, and we all live in a small town.
Charles Koch says Americans are drifting dangerously away from traditions of honesty, independence and personal responsibility.
He learned after many years to hire for values rather than talent, he said.
A lot of companies, and weve been guilty of this in the past, want to hire the smartest person, the most talented person. Well, the worst thing we can do, as we found, is hire a very talented person with poor values. If were going to hire somebody with poor values, we want somebody whos not very smart. Cause he or she will do less damage.
People sometimes ask why he stays in Kansas there are no beaches or mountains, and the wind, insects and temperatures are ruthless. But he says its not just that he loves Wichita its a business decision.