(Politico) – The Koch brothers’ political machine is expanding into new states and recruiting new donors as it seeks to shape the Republican Party — and its presidential field — headed into 2016, according to interviews with multiple sources, as well as confidential donor briefing documents obtained by POLITICO.
The documents detail plans to beef up the network’s state-of-the-art data system, and pay hundreds of staff embedded in local communities across the country in preparation for get-out-the-vote efforts that are unprecedented from a third-party group.
The plan comes with a $125 million 2015 budget for Americans for Prosperity, the most robust arm in the network of small-government advocacy groups helmed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. That’s the most the group has ever spent in a non-election year and the documents call the plan “beyond the biggest, boldest, broadest effort AFP has ever undertaken.” It calls for the creation of new chapters in Alabama, Idaho, North Dakota and Utah — continuing a move by the group to invest in deep red states where it can focus on pushing aggressive reforms to scale back union power and government regulation, rather than winning or protecting GOP majorities.
That mission sets AFP and the Koch network apart from the GOP — a distinction to which the briefing documents allude, noting “foes of economic liberty still sit on both sides of the aisle.” In fact, there’s been rising competition between the two as they have jockeyed for major donors this year, according to sources in conservative finance circles. (The Republican National Committee rejected any suggestion of tension with the Koch network, with RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh saying “Both organizations are receiving tremendous support from the Republican donor base as we all prepare to do everything we can do ensure we take back the White House in 2016.”)