Koch Brothers Could Spend more on Election than Republican Party Itself

Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Charles and David Koch

This political machine has 1,200 staffers and plans to spend $889 million to get conservative candidates elected this November. The Republican Party? No, the GOP’s efforts pale beside the work of two billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch and their vast network.


The amount of money the Kochs and their associates have to spend in the 2016 cycle is more than twice what the Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to put out, according to a report in Politico. Some of the money is theirs, courtesy of the energy company they inherited from their father, but an additional amount comes courtesy of like-minded (and -funded) donors who share the Kochs’ vision of a smaller government that will cut taxes and allow corporate America to do essentially as it pleases as it chases profits.


“I don’t know of any precedent for this,” campaign finance scholar Robert E. Mutch told Politico. “The rich guys who wanted to be politically active used to be politically active in the party. What’s different now is you’ve got them being active outside the party.”


The Koch’s network, operating from 107 offices nationwide with a workforce more than triple that of the RNC, is led by Americans for Prosperity (AFP). That organization, which has seen its efforts pay off in many states, has a staff of 948 and a budget of $104 million. AFP has campaigned to elect state legislators and governors who will work to tear down union rights, fight the Affordable Care Act and cut taxes.


The Kochs are even starting to rival the RNC’s infrastructure. Freedom Partners, the umbrella organization for the Koch machine, has created i360, a data analytics service that some Republican candidates prefer to the GOP’s. Groups targeting specific audiences, such as the Latinos, older Americans and women have been created.


The RNC claims that it is still vital to the Republican cause. “The Kochs’ efforts are helpful to the overall conservative movement, but they can never do the core functions that the party does,” RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer told Politico. But in the party’s own post-mortem to the 2012 election, when it failed to win the White House, it said: “Outside groups now play an expanded role affecting federal races and, in some ways, overshadow state parties in primary and general elections.” The situation “has caused a splintered Congress with little party cohesion so that gridlock and polarization grow as the political parties lose their ability to rally their elected officeholders around a set of coherent governing policies,” according to the report.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

How the Koch Network Rivals the GOP (by Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico)

Koch Brothers Responsible for almost 10% of TV Campaign Ads So Far this Year (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Koch Brothers Spent more on 2012 Election than Top 10 Unions Combined (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Koch Brothers Group Boasts Total Control of Iowa and South Dakota Legislatures (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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