Richard Fink

Richard H. Fink


Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from Rutgers, UCLA and New York University, respectively. [1]


Richard H. Fink is the former executive vice president and a member of the board of directors at Koch Industries, Inc. He has been involved in public policy lobbying for almost 30 years and  reportedly retired in 2015. Since the 1980s, Fink has advocated using “ideological entrepreneurship” or “political marketing” methods to advertise free-market ideology to the public. Fink was a board member of the funding body Freedom Partners, described by Politico as the “Koch brothers’ secret bank.” The Koch family has donated over $25 million to front groups that promote skepticism of man-made climate change. [2], [16], [15]

Fink takes his ideas on influencing public policy from Fredrich Hayek’s models of the production process. Fink describes a process in which one must first develop the intellectual raw materials, then develop these materials into policy products, and finally market and distribute them to consumers. Fink advocates that conservative foundations should invest in university programs, think tanks, and implementation groups. Each of these areas provide the “raw minds,” a place to “develop these minds,” and a marketable outlet to disseminate “these trained minds.”

Fink has been involved with conservative think tanks and free-market university programs. He founded the Center for Market Processes, which later became the Mercatus Center in 1980. Fink also served as the first president of David Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), which is now FreedomWorks. After working for CSE, Fink became the president of the Charles G. Koch and Claude R. Lambe Foundations. These groups have advocated for and received funding from the tobacco industry. 

Richard Fink has been a board member for several organizations at George Mason University including the George Mason University Foundationthe Institute for Humane Studies, and the Center for the Study of Public Choice—which received $795,902 in funding from conservative foundations between 1986 and 2005.

Stance on Climate Change

[Pending further investigation]

Key Quotes

“Tea parties reflect a spontaneous recognition by people that if they do not act, the government will bankrupt their families and their country. They’re absolutely right about that.” [3]

“[The U.S. Tobacco Program] is unbefitting a society that holds such values as free enterprise, equal opportunity, and individual liberty.” [14]

Key Deeds


Richard Fink urged the Koch brothers to do everything in their power to influence the outcome of the 2012 election. Fink, who is described as their long-time political strategist, said “If we are going to do this, we should do it right or not at all.” [5]


Americans for Prosperity, of which Richard Fink is President, campaigned against a smoking ban in Virginia by hiring a company to pressure Virginia state legislatures to vote against the ban with tens of thousands of phone calls. AFP framed it as a “consumer rights issue.” [4]


Americans for Prosperity (previously Citizens for a Sound Economy) campaigned against increases in tobacco taxes in the states of South Dakota, Texas, Kansas and Indiana. During this time AFP received funding from US Smokeless Tobacco, Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Tobacco Warehouse of Rapid City for their work in South Dakota. Richard Fink was president of AFP at this time. [6]


When Citizens for a Sound Economy split into the two groups of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks, Richard Fink continued to work as President of AFP where he continued lobbying activities for the tobacco industry. Fink worked with AFP when it recently campaigned against Proposition 29, legislation that would have increased tobacco taxes and directed this money towards cancer research. Together, AFP and the tobacco industry contributed more than $40 million in order to combat Proposition 29. [7], [8]


During the 1990s, at a time that major tobacco companies were accused of a conspiracy to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking, the Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy (both created by Richard Fink) acted in defense of the tobacco companies. Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) was part of the “Coalition for Fiscal Restraint” that partnered with Phillip Morris and Koch Industries. In 1994, CSE supported “Get Government Off Our Back,” a group created by RJ Reynolds Tobacco to oppose regulation of the tobacco industry. During this period of time, CSE received over $400,000 in funding from the tobacco industry. [9], [10][7]

The Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy had also supported Phillip Morris in 1991, listed in an “Industry Affairs Portfolio of Organizations” (PDF) during a federal suit. [11]


Richard Fink and the Koch brothers created Citizens for a Sound Economy, with approximately $1.5 million in seed money directly from David Koch. Their group originally focused on privatizing government and introducing a flat tax. [5]


Richard Fink has a long history of acting on behalf of tobacco industry organizations. In 1985 he urged federal representatives to eliminate the U.S. tobacco program, citing “enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers” that would result. The following is a brief excerpt of his full, hand-signed letter. A PDF of the full letter is available here.

“On behalf of the 220,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I urge you to consider the heavy costs of the U.S. Tobacco program, and the enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers which would result from the elimination of that program. Congressman Tom Petri, who is sponsoring an amendment to the farm bill that would eliminate the program, has correctly characterized the program as ‘feudalistic.’ It is unbefitting a society that holds such values as free enterprise, equal opportunity, and individual liberty.”  [14]

In 1988, Fink testified on behalf of Citizens for a Sound Economy (PDF) in front of the National Economic Commission in order to lobby against tax increases that had the potential to impact the profits of a number of large tobacco companies. [12]

When asking for the Tobacco Institute for funding, Roger Ream of Citizens for a Sound Economy promoted Richard Fink as a selling point for the organization. The following is from a letter from Ream to the Tobacco Institute (PDF available here)

“Recently, our president, Richard H. Fink, was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and to the Department of Transportation’s Amtrak Privatization Commission. This further enhances CSE‘s credibility and effectiveness on these issues.”



According to a search of Google Scholar, Richard Fink has published a small number of articles in the area of economics. His articles tend to be published by conservative think-tanks including the Lavoiser Group, and the Ludwig Von Mises Institute. His publications include:

  • Richard H. Fink. “Supply-Side Economics” (1983).
  • Richard H. Fink and Jack C. High. “A Nation in Debt” (1987). 


  1. RICHARD FINK,” Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Archived June 30, 2008.
  2. How the ‘Kochtopus’ stifled green debate,” The Independent, January 24, 2013.
  3. Mark Tapscott. “What if all businessmen were as dedicated to free markets as the Kochs? The Washington Examiner, July 18, 2010. PDF Retrieved from
  4. Legislators Targeted On Smoking Ban,” The Washington Post, February 5, 2009.
  5. The Kochs’ quest to save America,” The Wichita Eagle, October 11, 2012.
  6. Committee Summary: Americans For Prosperity,” Accessed March 9, 2013.
  7. Dorie E. Apollonio, PhD and Lisa A. Bero PhD. “The Creation of Industry Front Groups: The Tobacco Industry and “Get Government Off Our Back’,” Am J Public Health, 2007 March; 97(3): 419–427. doi:  10.2105/AJPH.2005.081117.
  8. Proposition 29 could raise $735M; Opponents question fund use,” KABCTV, May 11, 2012.
  9. Litigation Against Tobacco Companies,” United States Department of Justice. Accessed March 9, 2013.
  10. Richard Fink: The Koch Brothers’ Big Tobacco Man Behind the Kochtopus Curtain,” The Checks and Balances Project, January 31, 2013.
  11. INDUSTRY AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO OF ORGANIZATIONS FEDERAL SUIT,” Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. Bates Number 2078212231/2234.
  12. Testimony of Richard H. Fink President, Citizens for a Sound Economy,” November 16, 1988. Retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, Bates Number TI51431611.
  13. Richard Fink,” George Mason University. Archived February 5, 2004.
  14. CSE Letter, September 28, 1985. PDF Retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. Bates Number 2074122627.
  15. Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson. “Exclusive: In Koch World ‘Realignment,’ Less National Politics,” National Review, May 16, 2016. Archived May 19, 2019. URL:
  16. Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei. “The Koch brothers’ secret bank,” Politico, November 9, 2013. Archived June 13, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

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