Charles Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, a Kansas-based conglomerate and the second-largest private company in the country, is (according to Forbes magazine) one of the most politically-influential billionaires in the U.S., with a fortune estimated at nearly $43 billion.
He and his brother, Koch Industries' executive vice president David Koch, have bankrolled a network of conservative groups who support cutting federal regulations and shrinking the size of government.
In April, USA Today reported that the Kochs were looking at five potential candidates to back for president. Charles outlined that, of his donor network's two-year, nearly $900 million budget earmarked for politics, roughly a third -- about $300 million -- would be spent on federal and state elections in 2016.
In his first national television interview (to air this weekend on CBS' "Sunday Morning"), Koch was asked by correspondent Anthony Mason about the current field of presidential candidates.
"You said, you're not particularly high on any of the candidates so far?" asked Mason.
"Well, I didn't say that," Koch replied. "I said I don't have the evidence that they're going to change the trajectory of the country."
"Are you intending to support a candidate for President?" Mason asked.
"Well, it depends."
"If Donald Trump got the nomination, would you support him?"
"I made a vow: I'm not going to talk about individuals," Koch said. "David said he liked [Scott] Walker, so now all the press is, 'Well, we put all this money behind Walker, and he had to drop out.' We didn't put a penny [on him]. David said he liked him. That doesn't mean we've picked him."
- Donald Trump gets no love from the Koch Brothers (CBS News, 07/29/15)
- Charles Koch compares political work to abolition, civil rights (CBS News, 08/03/15)
- Likely GOP candidates flock to Koch Brothers' summit in California (CBS News, 01/20/15)
- Blood and oil ("60 Minutes," 11/27/00)
"Were you surprised Walker's candidacy didn't resonate in any way?"
"Well, I thought it would resonate better. But he wasn't a very good campaigner. So you may agree with us on a number of issues, or we agree with you on a number of issues. But if you're presenting them in a way that doesn't resonate, that doesn't do any good. So we can't support you.
"We're not interested in attacking windmills," he said.
Freedom Partners, an umbrella group that the Kochs support, has said Carly Fiorina is one of the candidates they "look forward to hearing more from."
But when Mason asked Koch about reports that he is "increasingly interested" in Fiorina, Koch laughed.
"Listen, if there's a report about me, just say, 'Okay, that is probably the opposite.' And you'll be on firmer ground."
"You're denying that report?"
Mason's interview with Charles Koch, in which he also talks about his new book, "Good Profit," the Tea Party, and the death threats he says he now receives every day, will air on "Sunday Morning" October 11, 2015.
For more info:
- "Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World's Most Successful Companies" by Charles G. Koch (Crown Business); Also available in eBook, Digital Audio Download, and Digital Audio CD formats