Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries.
Bo Rader | Wichita Eagle | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
After years of influencing the federal government, the powerful political advocacy group and industrial conglomerate of the Koch billionaire family have not given much thought to President Joe Biden’s White House.
Records show that the group known as the Koch Network, partially funded by Charles Koch, and Koch Industries, which has been in the Koch family since the 1940s, have not supported the White House since Biden became president earlier this year .
With the exception of a few Democratic contenders, the Koch group has generally supported Republican candidates and their economic policies. They saw some major political achievements during the Trump administration and worked with President Barack Obama’s administration on criminal justice reform for a while, despite opposing elements of his agenda.
Koch himself announced several publications after the election that he intended to work with the Biden administration on several issues.
“I look forward to working with them to remove the barriers that hold people back, be it in the economy, in the criminal justice system, in immigration, in the Covid-19 pandemic or elsewhere,” Koch told in November the Wall Street Journal.
Instead, the Koch network’s main political arm, Americans for Prosperity, has campaigned against many of Biden’s early initiatives, including its $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief bill and its $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal .
The network has publicly supported Biden in announcing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and Vanita Gupta becomes assistant attorney general. And she has asked the administration to improve the immigration system.
A person familiar with the matter also noted that the network plans to support former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram as Biden’s director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. This person declined to be named as the group has not yet made public the decision. The Charles Koch Foundation previously supported her work on criminal justice reform.
However, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity did not deny that there has been a lack of direct engagement with the White House in Biden.
“We have consistently pledged to support actions that improve people’s lives and stand up to those who don’t – with this and previous governments. Just five months after the Biden administration began, we supported their decision, the War in Afghanistan and end. ” advocate better immigration policies and police reform, “AFP spokesman Bill Riggs told CNBC in a statement emailed Thursday.
“However, massive spending bills disguised as infrastructure are not helping people improve their lives and so we reject them. However, we have also offered better policy options to address these concerns and we would like to speak with Congress and We have plenty of time in this administration and this session of Congress. We are open to working with anyone to do the right thing for the American people. And we will not get involved in man-made controversies where groups compete against each other “added Riggs.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
According to records, Americans for Prosperity did not lobby the White House for the first three months of the year. The group spoke to members of the House and Senate.
Last week, the group launched a seven-digit campaign against the Biden infrastructure plan, which will initially target 27 lawmakers, including some Democrats, in 16 states.
The effort spans more than 100 events across the country, including town halls, rallies, and acquisitions. It will also include a paid media strategy that focuses on direct mail and digital advertising. Among other points in Biden’s business plans, the group is opposed to increasing corporate and individual taxes for those who earn more than $ 400,000.
A person familiar with Americans’ ongoing affluence efforts said there was no evidence that the group had not yet contacted senior officials in the Biden White House and instead tried to manage through communication to influence with moderate Senate Democrats. This person declined to be named to speak freely about the situation.
Koch Industries also had no lobbying contact with the White House in Biden for the first three months of the year, records show. During the first quarter, Koch Industries lobbyists worked with the finance department on various bills, and the company’s outside lobbyists worked with the Environmental Protection Agency.
CNBC reported in March that Americans for Prosperity, following moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Mark Kelly, D-Ariz as a “personal option,” the Democratic proposals for a public option Health insurance aims to counteract this.
The Koch Plan is a collection of policy proposals aimed at the private sector that focus on tax breaks, expanding health savings accounts and reducing regulations. Americans for Prosperity and other right-wing groups spent millions against Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Representatives from Manchin, Sinema and Kelly did not respond to comments as to whether these talks had taken place. The white house and cook industries did not respond to requests for comment.
Shift in political realities
The turbulent transition from Trump’s administration to Biden has also significantly changed the Koch network.
The network has said it is open to working with Democrats as long as the organization does not compromise its principles, which go against what it believes to be overt government spending and interference.
Following the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, Koch Industries proposed changes to its campaign contributions strategy after more than 140 Republicans questioned the 2020 election results.
In March, the Koch Industries PAC announced at least five House legislators that had questioned the election results, according to the Bundestag Electoral Commission. Of the 50+ contributions made this month, only about six checks went to Democrats, including $ 5,000 to the moderate Blue Dog Coalition PAC. In April, the PAC wrote two checks for $ 5,000 to Senator John Kennedy’s re-election campaign in 2022. Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, questioned the results of the presidential election.
Koch also enjoyed certain perks during the Trump administration that didn’t seem to have surfaced in the early days of Biden’s tenure. Koch had key administrative allies in the early stages of Trump’s tenure.
A study by the Checks and Balances Project found that at least 16 high-ranking officials in the Trump White House had ties to the Kochs.
Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was previously President of Koch Network Policy. White House attorney Don McGahn was a senior attorney for one of Koch’s political groups, according to the study. Pence himself saw campaign contributions from Koch Industries when he was governor of Indiana. According to Reuters, Pence met privately with Charles Koch in 2017 at one of the network’s donor retreats.
Americans for Prosperity worked directly with the Trump administration on criminal justice reform. They saw victories with the passage of the Trump tax reform plan and major victories in the judiciary, with several preferred candidates making their way to the Supreme Court.
The network disagreed with Trump when it came to trade and immigration, which led to a reprimand from Trump in late 2018. “The globalist Koch brothers who have become a total joke in real Republican circles are against strong borders and powerful trade.” said the former president in a tweet rant. In particular, the network decided not to get involved in the 2020 presidential election.
Records show Koch Industries spent millions from late 2017 to 2020 campaigning for the Trump administration. His endeavors have included working with Trump’s White House office, which is run by the Chief of Staff.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, lobby forms from Koch Industries indicated an attempt was made to sway the White House office on tax reform legislation that was later signed by Trump in December of that year.
Biden is now trying to reverse several of those tax cuts to fund his expansive agenda.