In the process of trying to figure out exactly what is going on in the Koch-Cato dispute, I was struck by one thing: as near as I could figure out, the Kochs, according to Cato itself, had offered a compromise in which each side would choose eight board members. Meanwhile, as of the last board meeting, the Cato board was composed of sixteen board members, seven of them Koch appointees. Could all this acrimony at this point be over the identity of one board member, or were the Kochs insisting on retaining control beyond the initial selection of half of the board? Surely if the former, the Kochs could be persuaded to give up their legal battle given that the stakes were only 50% influence versus 42+% influence?
I haven’t had a chance to clarify whether the Kochs were indeed willing to move to board control of Cato if they got to choose 50% of the board, but David Weigel’s post yesterday explains why Cato’s nine to seven board majority was more significant than it might first appear:
Today, the board’s majority agreed to simply expand to 20 members, invoking a bylaw that allows that many people to serve if it’s so desired. They added four people — William A. Dunn, John C. Malone, Lewis E. Randall, and Donald G. Smith — who are more supportive of the non-Koch faction. “We now have a 13-7 majority,” said Ed Crane, Cato’s president since 1977.
On the other hand, Crane also told Weigel that the crisis would end if “we end the shareholder agreement and we have a majority on the board of directors who are not part of the Koch group.” So maybe going back to a nine to seven board majority would satisfy Crane, so long as the board thereafter had control of Cato. If so, the onus is on the Kochs to acknowledge that given their relative lack of involvement in Cato for the last two decades, they should be more than content with that level of influence over Cato’s future direction. Shareholder agreement aside, is there anyone out there who thinks that the Kochs deserve a 50% say in Cato? Or that this would be good for Cato, and libertarianism?