Dave Weigel, the independent libertarian blogger, provides some context for Koch:
The point: the Kochs have successfully, over the course of 30 years, funded a powerful libertarian infrastructure. The funny thing is that until mid-2009 or so, other libertarians hated that infrastructure. The loudest critics of the Kochs used to be "paleolibertarians," adherents of the economist Murray Rothbard, who feuded with the Kochs and accused them and their beneficiaries of being suckers for the state. Their blanket term for us: the "Kochtopus."(...)Until the tea party movement started rolling, many libertarians were convinced that the Kochs were throwing money down a rathole, supporting "statist" organizations that were collaborating with, not challenging, power. This is why us Orange Line mafiosos are so surprised to see the Kochs exposed as the Saurons of libertarianism.Doesn't particularly change the criticisms of Koch in my eyes (since I'm not a libertarian), but it's a useful run-down of where Koch fits into the right-wing movement.
Oh, and Weigel also posts the Kochs' letter of defense. From the letter:
Even the title of the article is a mischaracterization. It accuses the Kochs of being "covert" in their support of free markets. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation's and Koch Industries' websites, along with many other publicly available documents, clearly state the philosophies and institutions we support. Indeed, Koch Industries has repeatedly acknowledged that David Koch is Chairman of the Board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. David's participation in a recent AFP event was televised on C-SPAN and reported in several articles. This is hardly a "covert" approach. Allegations of "hidden" or "underground" activities, a recurring theme throughout the article and stories that have followed it, are belied by the extensive public record referenced in them. Meanwhile, the New Yorker quotes numerous unnamed sources to attack the Kochs.(...)David Koch is a cancer survivor who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars toward cancer research. The article gives short shrift to his commitment to supporting medical and scientific research to help save lives. Instead, it makes the assertion that David Koch has a conflict of interest regarding the regulation of formaldehyde because he sits on the National Cancer Institute's national advisory board. His role on the board has nothing to do with NCI making scientific recommendations or approvals regarding industrial products. In fact, during his six years on the NCI national cancer advisory board, he has never engaged in a discussion of formaldehyde.Unfortunately, some of those who disagree with a market-based point of view continue to try to demonize the Kochs' 40 years of unwavering, well-known, lawful and principled commitment to economic freedom and market-based policy solutions. The Kochs have steadfastly supported the benefits of economic freedom, the importance of the rule of law, private property rights, the proper and limited role of government in society and warned against the perils of excessive government spending. We see escalating efforts to discount and mischaracterize important and authentic citizen efforts, as well as dismiss and degrade our support of education and human services programs.
I have to say, they're right that the Kochtopus' support for the right wing is by no means a secret.
(Update: After rereading the article, I realize it made it look as though Wiegel was defending Koch. I've changed the introduction line to make it more apparent that Wiegel was quoting the letter.)