Top officials in the Koch brothers’ political organization Monday released a staggering 89 million budget to fund the activities of the billionaires’ sprawling network ahead of the 2016 presidential contest.
The budget, which pays for everything from advertising and data-gathering technology to grass-roots activism, was released to donors attending the annual winter meeting of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, according to an attendee.
Freedom Partners sits at the center of the vast operation, and in 2012 alone, spent nearly 40 million as it funded nearly three dozen organizations, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to smaller Tea Party groups.
The fundraising target is the latest indication that the industrialists at the center of the network, Charles and David Koch, intend to continue building an operation that could exceed the national political parties in size and scope to help advance their libertarian principles. The spending, unrivaled for an outside organization, represents more than double the nearly 00 million the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent during the 2012 presidential election cycle.
During remarks Saturday, Charles Koch said the organization would not back down from its ambitions.
“Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” Koch said, according to excerpts released over the weekend. “But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it.”
Koch said the group’s efforts have been “largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive.”
During last year’s midterm elections, Koch-affiliated groups spent millions in advertising to successfully toss out Democrats from the Senate and put the chamber in Republican control. In all, the Koch network is believed to have spent 90 million to help shape 2014 election results.
“We have never seen this before,” Sheila Krumholz, who runs the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, said of the Kochs’ planned spending, “There is no network akin to this one in terms of its complexity, scope and resources.”
Some Democrats, who have long cast the Koch brothers as the villains of American politics, said they were astonished by the sum.
“What an obscene amount of money,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for American Bridge, a Democratic-aligned super PAC. “It just goes to show the kind of cold calculation that the Kochs will apply to protect their bottom line.”
“If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the (Republican) presidential candidates will listen to.”
Four likely GOP White House contenders traveled to Freedom Partners’ event near Palm Springs, Calif., over the weekend. The Washington Post reports that six new GOP U.S. senators also attended to thank donors for their support.
About 450 donors and supporters attended the gathering, and the events generally conclude with a fundraising sessions where attendees pledge contributions to support the political and policy goals outlined during the meeting.
Freedom Partners and an affiliated group Americans for Prosperity recently touted their agendas for the new Congress. Priorities include dismantling Obamacare and stopping new Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The Kochs oversee a 15 billion industrial conglomerate that includes oil refineries, cattle ranching, asphalt production and manufactures a wide range of consumer products, including Dixie cups.
*Also see http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/koch-backed-network-aims-to-spend-nearly-1-billion-on-2016-elections/2015/01/26/77a44654-a513-11e4-a06b-9df2002b86a0_story.html?hpid=z1
Learn more here http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/26/koch-brothers-889m-budget-2016-presidential-election