Richard Kinder is known for his position as the executive chairman as well as the co-founder of Kinder Morgan Inc., which is an energy company that specializes in transporting oil and gas from where it was produced to where it needs to go. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that he is one of the richest people in the United States as a multi-billionaire. However, his involvement in other fields are just as interesting, seeing as how he is an active participant in politics as well as charitable endeavors meant to improve the city of Houston that serves as his home.
Here are 10 things that you may or may not know about Richard Kinder:
1. Belonged to Sigma Nu
Kinder got a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Doctor of Law degree at the University of Missouri. While he was a student, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, which has a couple of things that serve to contrast it with other fraternities. First, it was founded at Virginia Military Institute, which has exerted enormous influence on the whole of its structure. Second, it was anti-hazing from the start, though not all of its chapters have managed to uphold that particular ideal.
2. Got His Start at Enron
He got his start in the energy sector as an attorney for Florida Gas Transmission, which is rather appropriate considering his Doctor of Law degree. However, it is interesting to note that Florida Gas Transmission was later renamed the Enron Corporation, which might be more familiar to most people. After all, it was at the center of the Enron Scandal of 2001, which brought it low from its previously lofty heights.
3. Was Friends with Kenneth Lay
While he was a student, Kinder became friends with Kenneth Lay, who went on to become not just the CEO but also the chairman of the Enron Corporation at the time of the Enron Scandal. As a result, Lay was a pivotal figure in the bankruptcy of the energy company, though he never actually served any time because he died of a heart attack before he was sentenced for multiple charges of fraud.
4. Started His Own Energy Company with Another Friend
The Kinder in Kinder Morgan is no coincidence. After all, Kinder chose to start his own energy company with another college friend named William V. Morgan instead of staying at the Enron Corporation in 1996. A series of successful acquisitions rendered their initiative a rousing success, thus proving that Kinder was able to put his skills as one of Enron’s top executives to excellent use.
5. Specializes in Midstream Operations
Under Kinder, Kinder Morgan specializes in what are called midstream operations, which should be distinguished from both upstream operations and downstream operations. In short, upstream operations refer to searching for oil and gas as well as recovering that oil and gas in their raw, unprocessed forms, whereas downstream operations refer to refining that oil and gas into their finished forms as well as moving said products to the people who will be responsible for selling them to the end consumers. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that midstream operations refer to moving the oil and gas from one place to another, though it is interesting to note that midstream companies can have a fair amount of overlap with both their upstream and their downstream counterparts.
6. Has an Interest in Art
Kinder has a strong interest in art, as shown by the fact that he serves on the board of trustees for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Like its name suggests, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston houses about 64,000 artworks that span more than 6,000 years of history over a total of 6 continents, meaning that it is a comprehensive collection that is well worth seeing. As a trustee, Kinder is responsible for overseeing the institution to ensure its continuing well-being while in cooperation with other people in the same position.
7. Has an Interest in Charity
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is not the sole Houston institution to receive support from Kinder. After all, he and his wife set up the Kinder Foundation in 1997, which has provided more than $200 million in gifts and grants to Houston-based projects. Examples of the Houston projects that have benefited from the foundation’s charitable efforts range from the Houston Food Bank to a number of endeavors meant to preserve the natural landscape of the surrounding region for human use.
8. Self-Made Billionaire
In 2014, Forbes included Kinder on its list of the richest people in the United States. In further detail, the magazine described him as one of seven self-made billionaires from Houston to make it onto the list at a total net worth of $11 billion, which is a remarkable accomplishment by any measure. Overall, Kinder came 41st on the list as a whole.
9. Campaigned for Republican Candidates
Kinder is active in politics as well. Since he is a registered Republican, it should come as no surprise to learn that he has campaigned for a wide range of Republican candidates over the years. For example, he has campaigned for Bush-Quayle, Bush-Cheney, and McCain-Palin as well as non-presidential candidates such as Tom DeLay and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Furthermore, he is known to have donated $2 million to a Super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, though he refrained from further efforts in that regard.
10. Supports His Alma Mater
A lot of people choose to support their old schools, with Kinder being an excellent example. In 2014, his foundation provided the funding to set up the Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, which is meant to support people who excel in the teaching as well as the studying of American constitutional democracy. Later in 2015, his foundation provided further funding to support the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, which consisted of $25 million meant to last it over the entire course of its existence.