Charles G. and David H. Koch revealed their spending goal for the 2016 elections at their winter donors retreat in California on Monday, announcing that they want to spend $889 million, an amount that will match the amount spent by the Democrat and Republican parties themselves.
A substantial sum will come from the brothers themselves with the rest coming from about 300 other ultra-wealthy contributors as they continue their attempt to buy control of the nation.
Potential donors gathered at the retreat to take part in discussing strategies and seminars on issues and rub shoulders with potential candidates over the weekend. The Koch led effort has become the largest source of political money apart from the major parties and has gained an unprecedented amount of power in the Republican party in recent years.
The goal is more than twice the amount the brothers spent on the 2012 election which, at $400 million, was itself a record-setting amount.
With so much money at stake, potential Republican presidential candidates salivate at the prospect of an invitation to the annual meeting and four of them were present last weekend. Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) were all there to court the donors who could double their campaign spending.
The Kochs have been long time opponents of campaign disclosure laws, preferring to buy influence anonymously but they have recently begun to back away from secrecy with their Freedom Partners group, launching a super PAC to run more open political advertising campaigns.
On Sunday, Cruz, Rubio and Paul spoke to the attendees in a candidate forum which, for the first time, reporters were allowed to watch on a live video feed. All three brushed aside any question of whether or not the wealthy have too much influence on politics. Cruz defended his hosts saying that they are job creators who are unfairly attacked by the Democrats.
For his part, Rubio implied that only liberals favor campaign finance laws because it gives more power to their supporters in Hollywood and the media.
With this year’s event the largest to date one Democrat commented on the power the brothers wield within the Republican party.
“It’s no wonder the candidates show up when the Koch brothers call,” said former Obama adviser David Axelrod. “That’s exponentially more money than any party organization will spend. In many ways, they have superseded the party.”
h/t: New York Times