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The Koch brothers used their fortune to power a conservative crusade

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Billionaire industrialist and Republican megadonor David Koch died on Friday at the age of 79.

With a net worth of around $50.5 billion, Koch was one of the world’s richest people, largely the product of a 42 percent stake in the Kansas-based Koch Industries. He donated over $1.3 billion to charity, including gifts to prominent New York City institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He supported same-sex marriage, which set him apart from traditional Republicans.

He helped power a conservative crusade that profoundly reshaped American politics.

In recent decades, David and Charles Koch became a colossal political force. Since the 1970s, they personally donated at least $100 million to aid the rise of the Tea Party movement and bolster the Republican Party, according to The New York Times.

They built an influential network of donors aligned with their libertarian ideals of free-markets, lower taxes, and shrinking the size of the federal government. As their network poured money into recent election cycles, critics assailed it as the “Kochtopus.”

Read more: Billionaire industrialist and conservative mega-donor David Koch has died at age 79

The Koch brothers also funded initiatives that undercut climate science, and both “vehemently opposed the government taking any action on climate change that would hurt their fossil fuel profits,” author Jane Mayer wrote in her book “Dark Money.”

Here’s a look at how the Koch brothers realigned the nation’s politics with their libertarian brand of conservatism.

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