David Koch says he’s retiring with health in decline

Billionaire conservative icon David Koch is stepping down from the Koch brothers’ network of business and political activities.

The 78-year-old New York resident is suffering from deteriorating health, according to a letter that older brother Charles Koch sent to company officials Tuesday morning.

Charles Koch wrote that he is “deeply saddened” by his brother’s retirement. “David has always been a fighter and is dealing with this challenge in the same way,” he wrote.

David Koch is leaving his roles as executive vice president and board member for Koch Industries and a subsidiary, Koch Chemical Technology group, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. Koch is also stepping down as chairman of the board for the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, the charity related to the Koch brothers’ primary political organization.

Charles Koch had assumed a more visible leadership role in the brothers’ affairs in recent years. He will continue to serve as the CEO of Koch Industries and the unofficial face of the network’s political efforts.

Democrats have demonized the Koch brothers for their outsize influence in conservative politics over the last decade. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid regularly attacked Republicans for what he called a “Koch addiction.”

Yet the Koches have clashed with the Trump administration at times.

Citing concerns about Donald Trump’s style and substance, the network refused to endorse either presidential candidate in the 2016 election.

And while they have praised President Trump’s policies on taxes, deregulation and health care, they have aggressively attacked the Republican administration’s trade policies. On Monday, the Koch network announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to oppose Trump’s tariffs and highlight the benefit of free trade.

Using the money they made from their Kansas-based family business empire, the Koch brothers have created what is likely the nation’s most powerful political organization with short- and long-term goals.

Their network has promised to spend $400 million to shape the 2018 midterm elections. They have also devoted significant time and resources to strengthening conservative influence on college campuses, in the Hispanic community and in the nonprofit sector.

David Koch, who served as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980, had begun to focus more on philanthropy in recent years.

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