GOP chairwoman to donors: Don't trust the Kochs

The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee on Thursday sent a warning to donors about the influenti...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 8:44 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 8:44 AM

The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee on Thursday sent a warning to donors about the influential Koch political network, further fueling the fight between the powerful group and President Donald Trump and his allies.

The warning, presented in a memo to donors, comes amid days of open warfare between the Koch network and Trump Republicans after the President was criticized at the group's summer meeting.

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In a memo to donors, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote that "some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party."

"This is unacceptable," she added.

James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network, said in a statement, "Just as we have in the past, we will work together with the President, elected officials and others where we agree. And, where we disagree, we will do so in a civil way. This is what it will take to make progress on the issues and ultimately create a society of mutual benefit -- where people succeed by helping others."

In the memo, first reported by Politico, McDaniel lamented that the Koch network had developed its own data program outside of the RNC.

"From the beginning, the RNC had concerns about any outside entity building a data operation to compete with ours because we knew they could potentially weaponize that data against Republicans if their business interests conflicted with electing Republicans," reads the memo. "Sadly, our concerns were recently proven true."

McDaniel adds that the RNC is "the only entity which can be trusted with the data Republicans candidates need to win up and down the ballot - and this week proves why it is NECESSARY that the Party keep building on our successful operation."

Part of the warring between the two groups was set off when the Koch network announced this weekend that it isn't backing Rep. Kevin Cramer in the key North Dakota Senate race because they believe the congressman had not taken the lead on issues important to them. Their particular issue with Cramer is his support of a $1.3 trillion spending measure earlier this year and his reluctance to take on the White House on trade and tariffs.

"If this were 2016, we likely would have gone ahead and endorsed" Cramer, said Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips. "But we're raising the bar."

At the Koch network's summer conference, the group's leaders also offered pointed criticism of the President.

"The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage," said network co-chair Brian Hooks, who also chided elected officials who are "following" his lead. And Charles Koch said that his network would "hold people responsible" for not defending his network's libertarian principles and policy priorities, further alienating the group from the Trump circles now in control of the Republican Party.

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