This jaw-dropping symbiosis, taking cronyism almost to the nth degree, between the pharma giant Mylan, one of West Virginia’s foremost political families, and its leading state university, may be unmatched elsewhere, but there are other places which have displayed a similarly problematic appetite for corporate largesse.
(Incidentally, my Facebook posting on this WVU symbiosis was somehow removed within 24 hours.)
The late Carl Lindner Jr was to the University of Cincinnati (UC) what Milan Puskar is to WVU when it comes to mega-donations. Lindner gave UC its largest single donation ($30 million), as well as many millions in smaller donations. UC’s business school is named after him, as well as several smaller units within the university. UC’s athletic center is named after his brother Richard.
Lindner, a staunch Republican (though he also donated to Bill Clinton), was one of the richest people in the world. The basis of his wealth was ownership of United Dairy Farmers, Great American Insurance, Chiquita Brands International and the Cincinnati Reds, among many others. He also owned companies that were major issuers of junk bonds, and he was an important customer of junk-bond king Michael Milken.
Lindner was Chairman and CEO of Chiquita from 1984 to 2001. Chiquita had earlier been United Fruit, notorious in Latin American history for its savage mistreatment of workers, use of illegal pesticides, rampant environmental despoliation, and wholesale corruption of the local political system. During Lindner’s tenure as Chairman and CEO, Chiquita’s executives made under-the-counter payments of approximately $1.7 million to an illegal Colombian rightwing paramilitary group, subsequently branded as a terrorist organization by the US State Department because it operated death squads.