Bill Koch was born May 3, 1940 in Wichita, Kansas. He is the President of Oxbow Corporation and Chairman of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. His brothers, Charles and David Koch, run the influential conglomerate, Koch Industries, a business inherited from their father, Fred Koch.
The Koch Industries family business has been a major battleground for a decades-long family feud. Bill began his career at Koch Industries as a consultant in 1971, moving on to other positions without experiencing much success. Koch was fired by his brother, Charles Koch, after he attempted to seize control of the company's Board of Directors.
After receiving $620 million from Koch Industries for his 21 percent stake, Koch opened a series of lawsuits against his brothers that lasted several decades, one of which resulted in a $25 million penalty against Koch Industries for stealing oil for Native American reservations and federal land.
Bill Koch founded the Oxbow Group in 1983 with settlement money from legal disputes over his shares of Koch Industries. Oxbow is a privately-held energy corporation currently based in West Palm Beach, Florida. A conglomerate of two dozen companies, the Oxbow Corporation makes over $3.7 billion in sales annually, operates in nearly 20 countries. The business is primarily centered on petroleum coke sales and coal mining, selling 10 million metric tons of petroleum coke and 8 million metric tons of steam coal each year. The company is also active in natural gas production and in sales of industrial products such as gypsum and bauxite.
"I've done a lot of sailing and, well, the rules aren't fair, life ain't fair. You play according to the rules that are given to you."
-St. Petersburg Times, December 28, 2003
"Here I am, one of the wealthiest men in America, and I had to borrow money to buy a house. What's the point of building a company if you are not able to take out the assets and do what you want with them?"
"I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime."
-CBS 60 Minutes
"I would go up to my secretary [and say], 'You dumb shit, why'd you make that mistake?' I was that kind of guy."
-Village Voice, August 24, 2011
Koch has been criticized for taking advantage of tax loopholes in Florida, intended to help small businesses, in order to maximize the profit of Oxbow Corporation.
Oxbow Mining’s Elk Creek Mine, located in western Colorado, has been cited with over 66 "significant and substantial" violations in the past year by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The mine, which produces 6 million tons of bituminous coal annually, has been fined $960,000 since its opening through 2010, including a $45,000 fine in March, 2010 for problems similar to those that caused the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch mine, operated by Massey.
Koch has donated at least $1.5 million of his personal fortune in attempts to prevent the construction of the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. Koch has personally lobbied other wealthy opponents of Cape Wind to raise millions of dollars for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group he co-chairs. Additionally, Koch has funneled money from Oxbow to finance lobbyists working to oppose Cape Wind.
Opposition groups funded by Bill Koch forced a fourth review of Cape Wind by the FAA, even though three previous reviews found the project to pose no danger to air safety. The latest review has been attacked by Congressmen Darrell Issa and John Mica, who have nebulous ties to Bill Koch. Read Issa and Mica's letter here.
Koch is also known for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal wealth to Republican candidates. He is currently on a Florida fundraising team for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid.