Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are accelerating fundraising efforts for their extensive network of conservative political groups with a meeting Sunday of the nation's foremost donors, a sign they intend to make an indelible mark on the 2014 elections and beyond.
The three-day event in Palm Springs, Calif., is designed to raise millions of dollars to expand three organizations: Freedom Partners, the influential fundraising engine for conservative non-profits; Aegis Strategic, a consulting firm that will recruit, train and support free-market candidates; and Center for Shared Services, a recruiter and support team for Koch-backed non-profit groups that provides services for free or substantially below cost, Politico reports.
James Davis, an official at Freedom Partners told Politico that the group has expanded rapidly, "and we expect to continue to grow."
"Our membership has grown out of concern that the administration's policies are hurting Americans by crippling businesses and our economy," he said, adding that the group is in the process of expanding its 50-member staff.
Aegis, meanwhile, will serve as the candidate-support operation of the Koch network, making its first direct foray into the Republican primaries to handpick preferred candidates for the GOP ticket.
The push this year, according to Politico, is for the Koch political operations to forge a more integrated approach to political involvement, which until now has been decentralized, in part to protect the identity of donors.
In the past few years, the expanding Koch operation has become one of the most dominant forces shaping the American political landscape, with a war chest capable of sinking the Democrats' chances of retaining the Senate in November.
In 2012, the Koch network raised over $400 million, more than every other independent group, trumping the Democrats' formidable national coalition of labor unions, The Washington Post recently reported.
The brothers' main political vehicle to date has been Americans for Prosperity. The political advocacy group spent $25 million in the last six months alone on ads targeting Democrats on Obamacare which may have already made inroads to undermine vulnerable Democratic senators, according to Politico.
Koch spokesman Robert Tappan declined to comment on the weekend Palm Springs meeting, but Koch Industries' website describes the event as bringing together "some of America's greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders to discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs."
Past meetings, like one in August, have also attracted some of the GOP's top operatives and rising stars, and included pledge sessions that have raised tens of millions of dollars.
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