Anti-Government Koch Donor Landed More Than $100 Million in Federal Contracts
by Scott Klinger, 2/19/2014
Richard “Dick” Haworth is a frequent guest at the semi-annual retreats hosted by Charles and David Koch honoring those who have given more than a million dollars to conservative causes. The Koch brothers’ political machine has been marshalling “dark money” used to lead the charge to shrink the size of government, to roll back taxes, to cut regulations, and to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Haworth is also the Chairman Emeritus of his family’s office furniture company, Haworth Inc. Founded by his father in 1948, the family-owned company has more than 7,000 employees and is the third-largest office furniture manufacturer in the United States. Dick Haworth ran the business for more than three decades until his retirement in 2009.
While being a leading political supporter of smaller government, Haworth, the business man, was busy soliciting U.S. government contracts. The company continues to be one of the leading suppliers of office systems and furniture to the Defense Department, General Services Administration, and other government agencies.
In fiscal year 2009, the year of Dick Haworth’s retirement, Haworth Inc. sold $76.3 million worth of office systems and furniture to the federal government, representing 6.9 percent of the company’s total sales. In the four years since Haworth’s retirement, his company has landed federal government contracts worth an additional $176 million, representing 3.3 percent of the company’s total sales during the four-year period.
Dick Haworth’s appearance at the latest Koch-hosted retreat in January was reported by Mother Jones, which obtained a list of the elite guests, after it was mistakenly left by one of the participants in the lobby of the exclusive Renaissance Esmeralda resort located outside Palm Springs, California.
Dick Haworth is a also member of the board of trustees of Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative free-market think tank that is a leader in anti-union "right-to-work" advocacy. The Mackinac Center also is a strong supporter of limited government. Its website says,” We look forward to the day when the myths and fears of free-market capitalism are dispelled, along with the misplaced faith in a benevolent, omnipotent state.”
It’s a lucky thing for Dick Haworth and his corporate colleagues that the federal government is so benevolent – most customers wouldn’t look so kindly on a major supplier who was actively working to shrink their size and influence.