Letters to the Editor: The disgraceful smearing of David Koch’s rich legacy

David Koch
David Koch at an Americans for Prosperity event in Washington in 2011.
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: The Los Angeles Times did not cover itself in glory in its coverage of the death of David Koch. The Times’ obituary said that Koch “used immense wealth to push politics to the right.”

In reality, his passion for politics was driven by a desire to knock down the barriers that prevent others from realizing their potential. He was a champion of a fair criminal justice system as early as the 1970s. He publicly stood against discrimination based on sexual orientation when few others dared.

Koch partnered with hundreds of other business leaders and philanthropists to support a diverse community of nonprofit organizations. The achievements of this inspiring group is among his greatest legacies, whether in public policy or in boosting the efforts of organizations such as Chrysalis, which provides job training to homeless people in Southern California.


Koch committed hundreds of millions of dollars to establishing multiple state-of-the art cancer research and patient centers. He gave away more than $1 billion during his life and provided for even more after his death.

His generosity was not just a passive thing. When he learned that an employee had health issues, he would help them find the best doctors and specialists. As his brother Charles said in his tribute, David’s generosity is best captured in the words of Adam Smith: “To indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature.”

Anyone who worked with Koch surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life. I certainly did. I know there are many others who also see in Koch a life worth imitating and a legacy worth advancing.

Gavin Herbert, Newport Beach

The writer, a member of the Koch-backed Stand Together Foundation, is the co-founder and retired president and chief executive of Allergan.