Editor: On April 24, the Virginia Circuit Court in Fairfax held a hearing on a lawsuit filed by two George Mason University student groups, Transparent GMU and UnKoch my Campus. The suit is a Freedom of Information Act action demanding public disclosure of the terms of an agreement between the Koch Foundation’s contributions of tens of millions of dollars to the George Mason University Foundation, a GMU instrumentality.
Efforts by GMU students to gain access to the agreement between Koch and the university have been denied by the administration. When it became clear that the university would not grant them access, the student groups filed the FOIA lawsuit.
During the court hearing, the chief financial officer of the GMU Foundation testified that 75 percent of GMU President Angel Cabrera’s annual compensation is paid by Koch funds. Given that three-fourths of his annual compensation is paid by billionaire industrialists, one might legitimately ask, for whom does he work?
To jeopardize the public integrity of one of our flagship universities by agreeing to accept Koch brothers funding for GMU academic programs not only reflects exceedingly poor judgment by university leadership, but jeopardizes GMU’s reputation, academic independence, and integrity.
I urge the attorney general to determine the legality of such a secret arrangement. Does it violate Virginia statutes or regulations governing compensation and conduct of public officials. I also urge members of the General Assembly to investigate the nature, circumstances, and contractual details of the totally inappropriate relationship between the Koch brothers and George Mason University—and consider how to prevent such travesties in the future.
Randy Ihara, South Riding