BREAKING NEWS Car of missing North Iowa man contained human remains Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The Koch network threatens to hold GOP to account

Frustrated with Republican lawmakers and recent policy developments out of Washington, the juggernaut Koch network ap...

Posted: Jul 30, 2018 10:02 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2018 10:02 PM

Frustrated with Republican lawmakers and recent policy developments out of Washington, the juggernaut Koch network appears poised to rethink or scale back its involvement in GOP politics in what would be a surprising shift as the midterm elections near.

In a rare question-and-answer session with reporters Sunday, the network's billionaire founder Charles Koch expressed "regret" over his network's past support for some candidates, who he believes have not done enough in office to defend its libertarian principles and policy priorities.

"So, we're going to be much stricter," Koch said, adding that the network would "hold people responsible for their commitments."

The shift would seem to confirm the worst fears of some Republicans, who have quietly worried about becoming too reliant on the Koch network, which is not a partisan group, but an ideological one. Politics and government are just one of several areas to which the Koch network commits its resources and collective energy, in addition to business, education and community programs.

Still, the network has loomed large in elections as a powerful and deep-pocketed ally of Republican candidates and interests, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their behalf. But the tone of Koch network leaders this weekend suggested a possible retrenchment.

"Where we invest is where we find an opportunity where our capabilities can make a difference, and so we'll engage in politics to the degree in which it's really moving our overall agenda," said Charles Koch. He added, "If we don't see that, then we'll go into these other areas."

The Koch network has pledged to invest more money in this midterm election cycle than any before, as much as $400 million, to support its policy objectives and help defend Republican majorities. Network leaders said this weekend that that overall budget has not changed.

However, the network might now be less invested in the outcome of this election cycle. When asked Sunday whether the network would be comfortable with a Democratic majority in the House, Charles Koch suggested it would not matter to him what party controls Congress.

"What I'm OK with are policies that will move us toward a society of mutual benefit, equal rights, where everybody has the opportunity to realize their potential," said Koch. "So, I don't care what initials are in front or after somebody's name."

Meanwhile, Koch suggested he would be "happy" to work with and support Democrats, "and we would love for there to be more Democrats who support these issues" that are central to the group's work.

Americans For Prosperity, the nonprofit political and policy arm of the Koch network, alarmed some Republicans earlier this summer with a digital ad cheering Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp after she supported rolling back regulations on some banks. According to Facebook's publicly available data, the group spent less than $100 promoting the ad on the site, and it was online for just four days. But Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats running for reelection this year, and her race could help decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Americans For Prosperity also promoted a digital ad this year taking on Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican running for Senate in Pennsylvania, over his support for a budget package that increased federal spending.

"If you're a Democrat and you stand up to Elizabeth Warren..., you're darn right we'll work with you," the group's CEO, Emily Seidel, told the network's backers Sunday. She added, "And if you're a Republican who sits on committee that wrote the worst spending bill in country's history and voted for it, you're darn right we'll hold you accountable."

Seidel conceded that the decisions to run the ads were "uncomfortable." But, she added, "The fact that we're willing to do this during an election year shows we're dead serious."

The tone of the Koch network's summer meeting has contrasted sharply with that of their previous confab in January, when network leaders were still basking in the warm afterglow of new tax laws championed by Republican lawmakers.

At the time, the network's leaders pointed to the midterm elections and protecting Republican majorities in Congress as a priority moving forward. Now, however, the emphasis has shifted to policy areas, like criminal justice reform, that could attract bipartisan support.

In part, guiding the network's pivot is its angst over the direction of Republicans in Congress, who earlier this year approved a $1.3 trillion spending agreement that increased federal government funding for defense spending and domestic programs. Brian Hooks, the network's co-chair, panned that legislation Sunday as the "most irresponsible budget in history," expressing disappointment that "we supported the elections of these guys" in the Republican Party who backed it.

"People are taking us for granted," Hooks added. "And so, if we want things to change, we have to do things differently. No more waiting for others to set the agenda. This network has got to lead."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 135372

Reported Deaths: 2406
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34290991
Ramsey14168361
Dakota9897138
Anoka8872150
Washington598672
Stearns588344
Scott342934
Olmsted327730
St. Louis302669
Wright254115
Clay232843
Nobles227616
Blue Earth20457
Carver18207
Sherburne171122
Kandiyohi17055
Rice164810
Mower152917
Winona126019
Chisago10402
Crow Wing103522
Lyon9766
Benton9509
Waseca9299
Beltrami9017
Otter Tail8737
Todd8266
Steele7613
Morrison7429
Nicollet73917
Itasca73617
Douglas7083
Freeborn6844
Polk6734
Le Sueur6315
Martin61317
McLeod6024
Goodhue59711
Watonwan5794
Becker5754
Isanti5615
Pine5490
Carlton4441
Chippewa4443
Mille Lacs41315
Hubbard3962
Dodge3940
Wabasha3840
Cass3775
Pipestone35117
Rock3404
Meeker3313
Brown3243
Unassigned29253
Yellow Medicine2856
Murray2833
Cottonwood2820
Redwood28111
Roseau2650
Fillmore2640
Renville25611
Sibley2543
Wadena2393
Faribault2350
Jackson2151
Kanabec21510
Swift2071
Houston2061
Pennington1951
Lincoln1840
Stevens1841
Aitkin1792
Koochiching1704
Pope1610
Big Stone1410
Lac qui Parle1403
Wilkin1374
Marshall1261
Lake1230
Norman1170
Mahnomen1162
Clearwater1140
Grant994
Red Lake782
Traverse570
Lake of the Woods441
Kittson420
Cook170

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 116514

Reported Deaths: 1643
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19024288
Woodbury724797
Johnson586230
Black Hawk562698
Linn5591132
Dubuque521157
Scott456639
Story401018
Dallas346344
Pottawattamie324744
Sioux244716
Buena Vista226112
Marshall202036
Webster184415
Plymouth166728
Wapello153062
Clinton149226
Muscatine147758
Des Moines139610
Cerro Gordo137726
Crawford136114
Warren12617
Carroll115612
Jasper111234
Henry10675
Marion101810
Lee95610
Tama94837
Delaware78013
Dickinson7417
Wright7271
Boone7239
Mahaska69724
Bremer6779
Washington66211
Harrison65815
Jackson6333
Benton5902
Lyon5537
Clay5354
Louisa52315
Winnebago49719
Hardin4777
Winneshiek4779
Hamilton4754
Cedar4746
Kossuth4690
Poweshiek45911
Buchanan4544
Jones4474
Floyd43711
Emmet43019
Clayton4233
Iowa4109
Page4060
Mills4053
Cherokee4032
Sac3994
Guthrie39515
Cass3903
Butler3832
Fayette3814
Franklin38118
Shelby3732
Allamakee3719
Madison3623
Chickasaw3611
Clarke3523
Humboldt3253
Hancock3204
Palo Alto3142
Grundy3115
Calhoun3094
Osceola2851
Mitchell2811
Howard2709
Monroe25911
Monona2451
Taylor2432
Jefferson2391
Union2314
Appanoose2273
Pocahontas2262
Fremont2061
Lucas2056
Ida1932
Greene1870
Van Buren1802
Davis1784
Montgomery1787
Adair1701
Keokuk1611
Decatur1500
Audubon1481
Worth1450
Wayne1213
Ringgold882
Adams810
Unassigned110
Rochester
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 17°
Mason City
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
Albert Lea
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 23°
Austin
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 20°
Charles City
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 27°
Tracking plenty of sunshine through the week!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Keith Ellison on Voter Rights

Image

Project Lifesaver

Image

First Responders Brush up On Search and Rescue

Image

Searching for Rochester's next City Administrator

Image

Local schools conduct Kid Elections

Image

Silver Lake Dredging Project

Image

Contact Tracing to stop the spread

Image

Tracking Your Ballot

Image

Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

Image

More Businesses Sought For #ShopLocalSafely

Community Events