Koch Groups Plan New Spending Targeted at Veterans, Latinos

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 11:05 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The conservative political action network run by Charles and David Koch plans spending targeted at veterans and Latinos in the run-up to the 2016 elections, The Washington Post reported.

The Koch network will release some of the hundreds of millions of dollars from its 2014 budget to a new group, Concerned Veterans for America, which will capitalize on the public backlash at the Veterans Administration hospital scandal, the Post said.

"We don’t want to be a flash-in-the-pan type of organization," Pete Hegseth, CEO of the group and an Iraq war veteran, told the Post. "This tour is part of building a grass-roots movement."

The group is currently running a 10-city "Defend Freedom Summer Tour" which will draw potential supporters with a program that combines music festivals and political speeches after which people will be invited to sign-up to volunteer.

Separately, resources are also being directed toward the Libre Initiative, aims to shift the allegiance of Latinos, who have traditionally favor the Democratic Party. Plans include a focus on the weaknesses of Obamacare.

Another Koch-backed group, Generation Opportunity, will target 18- to 34-year-olds through institutions of higher learning and social media, while a new super PAC is being launched to enable more direct election activity that is otherwise restricted under the Koch's range of tax-exempt groups.

"The plan underscores the huge reach of the Koch-backed operation, a singular force in American politics that has functioned outside the traditional campaign finance system," the Post's Matea Gold wrote.

It is expected that spending this year by the Koch network will exceed the total combined spending from all other outside groups on both the left and the right. Its campaigns range from the airwaves to grassroots organizing, the center of which is its free-market advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity which has 240 full-time employees operating in 32 states.

"We want to have an impact on economic policy on the local, state and federal level, and we're building an organization over the long term that can best accomplish that," Tim Phillips, president of AFP, told the Post.

The group is expected to spend more than $100 million this year.

The numerous controversies gripping the Obama administration have increased donor enthusiasm, said James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners, another leading group in the Koch network. A recent four-day summit drew significant pledges from new donors.

For the 2014 midterm elections, Freedom Partners is expected to spend more than $15 million on pivotal Senate races in a bid to help elect more free market candidates and flip control of the Senate to the GOP.

Davis told the Post that the effort was part of the group's ongoing campaign to "advance a free society," adding that as a political committee it has the freedom to "support free-market candidates in a direct way."

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