The Cato Institute’s approach to its current deathmatch with the Kochs has resembled a blitzkrieg. Ed Crane, president of the libertarian think tank since the Jimmy Carter era, has criticized the Kochs in the press. Bob Levy, chairman of the board, has given reporters plenty of quotes about the beginnings of the crisis. Other Cato scholars and executives have warned that a Koch-owned Cato would no longer be a serious insitution.
The Kochs’ response has been – well, it’s what you’d expect from wealthy people who a compelling legal theory of how they’ll eventually win. They have issued occasional open letters criticizing the Cato position, getting personal. In the latest letter, David Koch attacks Crane for a “rule or ruin” strategy, which included – shock! – an interview with Jane Mayer when she was writing about the Kochs.
Bob also argues that because Charles and I are active in the political arena, our visible involvement with Cato jeopardizes its credibility. However, that visibility was exacerbated by Ed himself when he contributed to The New Yorker article. (He is the individual quoted as the “top Cato official.”) When confronted about this, Ed initially claimed he only spoke briefly and favorably about us. He later acknowledged that he had made the statement as quoted, but it was only for background. Subsequently, he claimed that he was misquoted. As Ed has shown, he will partner with anyone – including those that oppose Cato and what it stands for – to further his personal agenda at the expense of others working to advance a free society.
The critique: Cato’s current leaders are betraying the family. You don’t criticize the family.
Bob’s irresponsible and inaccurate comments seem designed to elicit support from entities that have been attacking Koch Industries, Charles, and me. This has led to third parties such as Common Cause, a partisan activist group that has launched dishonest and violent attacks against us, to call for investigations into the tax-exempt status of Cato. It also has caused members of the far left, such as Center for American Progress, to side with Bob and Ed as yet another way to attack Charles and me. These attacks are by people and organizations that oppose the principles of a free society and only want to harm Cato and those who support it.
The whole letter is here.