Billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation has bankrolled three conservative legal groups leading the court battle to eliminate prohibitions against tenant evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic in America.
At the same time, Koch’s corporate empire has suddenly stepped up its real estate purchases during the pandemic – including making large investments in real estate companies with a potential financial interest in eliminating eviction restrictions.
Between 2017 and 2019, the Charles Koch Foundation contributed almost $7.7m to three conservative organizations, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Pacific Legal Foundation and the New Civil Rights Alliance have been pushing federal courts to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is designed to protect millions of Americans from being thrown out of their homes during the pandemic. The groups have so far won two rulings. But since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Koch Industries has been ploughing money into real estate.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the billionaire’s corporate conglomerate “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices and betting on a longer-term recovery”. Koch Real Estate Investments made a $200m preferred-equity investment in Amherst Holdings LLC’s single-family rental business. Koch Real Estate Investments began a financial relationship with Ladder Capital Corp., culminating in a $32m equity investment in December.
In February, the Texas Public Policy Foundation convinced a federal judge in Texas to declare the CDC’s eviction moratorium unconstitutional. In March, a federal judge in Ohio sided with the Pacific Legal Foundation, ruling that the CDC “exceeded the scope of its authority” with its eviction ban.