Politics

Koch Network Forms a New Super PAC

Americans for Prosperity Action to directly support candidates

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, told donors that the organization wouldn’t support Republican candidates who are not in line with their policy positions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Americans for Prosperity, one of the conservative policy-focused arms of the network of organizations backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, is getting into the super PAC business.

“Our mission is to help improve lives by breaking the barriers holding people back, and that requires building the policy coalitions in Washington to get it done. Americans for Prosperity has been a difference-maker supporting policy champions in tight races, and AFP Action is a new tool that will allow us to expand those efforts and make an even larger impact,” Americans for Prosperity Action Spokesman Bill Riggs said in a statement accompanying the launch.

AFP Action is expected to promote like-minded candidates in connection with other campaign advocacy branches of the Koch tree: Concerned Veterans for America Action and LIBRE Action.

While no initial investments were announced, the Koch network organizations have the financial resources to spend heavily, and the more direct foray into the campaign sphere could be a benefit for the candidates they support.

For instance, AFP announced several “policy champions” on Aug. 30, a list that included GOP House members in challenging races in a number of Midwestern and Southeastern states.

But in stressing that the conservative groups intend to support candidates backing the Koch agenda, AFP action is implicitly signaling that its support for targeted Republicans won’t be automatic.

That is in line with what the Koch organization was reportedly telling its donor network at a retreat this summer in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

At the gathering, AFP President Tim Phillips said the network didn’t intend to spend in the North Dakota Senate race, because Republican Senate candidate and current Rep. Kevin Cramer was not in line with their policy positions.

The Koch network has been engaged in a policy campaign against some of President Donald Trump’s trade actions, particularly criticizing tariffs like those on steel and aluminium from U.S. allies. They’re also part of the bipartisan push for overhauling the criminal justice system — which has yet to advance with Republicans in control of Capitol Hill.

Riggs said that the idea of forming an AFP super PAC has been been under consideration for a while, since it gives those involved another way to help candidates who champion their policy views.

Of course, taking the legal step to be able to raise unlimited amounts of money expressly to back candidates (though not coordinate with them) will certainly be derided by Koch skeptics and critics of the amount of money they already spend to influence policy debates.

Watch: Democratic Candidates Raise Millions in Second Quarter Fundraising

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