Koch Group giving up on politics? Not so much.
Hey remember back in 2018 when Politico ran a whole big feature about how fortunate son Chase Koch isn’t passionate about politics, and we were skeptical that it signaled the network’s direction would change as Politico suggested? Or what about in 2019 when the Washington Post ran a big piece on the Koch network’s new name and supposed shift away from politics, and we pointed out it’s not such a shift at all, as was confirmed by later documentation that showed the network increased levels of lobbying?
Because yesterday, Emily Seidel, the CEO of the Koch networks’s Americans for Prosperity, told CNN that “the people who thought that we may have been backing down from politics are going to be surprised, because the reality is we’ve been strengthening our capabilities to go bigger than ever before.”
And it’s not like they haven’t already been big. In 2018, they reportedly planned to spend $400 million on politics, and worked to influence the outcome of 64 different races. In 2020, according to Seidel, they’re looking to double or triple the number of races, suggesting they may be dropping something in the neighborhood of a billion dollars on the 2020 election cycle.
Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Koch network was going to be taking a new approach given the uncritical coverage to that effect, and the fact that in 2019 Emily Seidel sent out a memo to AfP with the subject line that began “A new approach” and a concluding sentence that reiterated their “new approach to public policy and political engagement in America.”
Part of that new approach was a supposed olive branch to Democrats willing to work on Koch priorities, like criminal justice reform. Is that reflected in their 2020 spending? Seidel told CNN that they’re “not looking for Democrats” or Republicans, just “people who are committed to driving on these policies that we believe will help the lives of all Americans.”
Which is a lovely sounding quote, but like most things in the Koch world, it’s a lie: according to CNN, all 10 candidates AfP’s political arm has endorsed for 2020 are Republicans.
The Koch network was all too eager to feed media the narrative that this new approach would be bipartisan and apolitical, but they’re now making it clear it’s really the same old strategy: invest millions exploiting a gullible press to deceive the public in order to protect Koch Industry profits from regulation.
So if you are one of those people who was actually surprised by Seidel’s declaration that they’re going to “go bigger than ever before,” you must not have been paying attention.
(To us, at least…)
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(Crossposted from DailyKos. Image CC by DonkeyHotey on Flickr)