Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Koch Network Condemns Ban of Immigrants

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Koch Network Condemns Ban of Immigrants

Article excerpt

INDIAN WELLS,Calif. - Leaders of the influential Koch network on Sunday expressed opposition to President Donald Trump's controversial ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, saying the executive order is not in keeping with their aims to build a free and open society. "We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families, said Brian Hooks, the president of the Charles Koch Foundation, who is co- chairing a weekend conference of donors who help finance the Koch operation.

"The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive, he added. "Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.

The statement represents the network's first public critique of Trump since his election victory.

Last year, Charles Koch, the conservative industrialist who leads the network, was sharply critical of Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from the United States, calling the idea "antithetical to our approach. He called the suggestion that Trump might require Muslims to register "reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Koch did not weigh in on the ban Saturday night as he greeted 550 wealthy donors gathered in a courtyard under stately palm trees at a desert resort here. The 81-year-old billionaire, who pointedly declined to endorse Trump in last year's presidential election, praised the network's work in helping Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate and their support for state officials around the country.

He expressed optimism about what the group will be able to accomplish in the coming year, saying, "We may not have an opportunity again like we have today.

This weekend's gathering is the largest since Koch began holding twice-a-year seminars with like-minded donors in 2003. Since then, he and his allies have built a political and policy operation with reach into 36 states.

No one from the Trump administration is attending this weekend's conclave. However, five Republican senators are making appearances: Patrick J. …

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