Students in Utah call for transparency in Koch brother gifts

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 7:56 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group of students at Utah State University are calling for the institution to release information about money donated by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Sophomore Diego Mendiola organized a protest Thursday calling on Utah State to be transparent about the donations that have totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2008.

About 15 students marched from the Huntsman Business College building to the office of University President Stan Albrecht, where they presented a letter formally requesting the school's contract with the Charles Koch Foundation. It came as in connection with an event called UnKoch My Campus, where students protested at 50 colleges that have received Koch donations.

"We're not saying the Koch brothers can't do this, what we're asking for is just transparency," Mendiola said.

Utah State spokesman Tim Vitale says the institution, based in Logan, Utah, is working to fulfill a request that Mendiola made on Monday. The current contract with the foundation stipulates that the university has to give the foundation 10 days' notice before releasing the details of the document, the same period allowed under Utah public record law, he said.

"The Koch foundation donation, we look at it not differently than any other donations," Vitale said.

Past donations have included a five-year, approximately $625,000 grant to help hire new professors and the $45,000-a-year Koch Scholar program for students.

Charles and David Koch are known for pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into backing conservatives and libertarian causes. The brothers have built an elaborate network of political and social groups that have funneled tens of millions of dollars to groups like Americans for Prosperity, building one of the country's most potent outside forces driving Republican politics and candidates.

Foundations linked to them gave more than $19.3 million to a total of 210 colleges all over the country in 2013, an increase of $6.6 million over the year before, according to an Oct. 30 analysis of tax records from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization in Washington, D.C.