Freedom Partners, the political operation run by the Koch brothers, has budgeted $889 million for its political activities in the 2016 election, donors were told at the group's meeting in California over the weekend.
The Washington Post reports
that the move is part of a strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may include getting involved in the Republican primaries.
The Koch-backed group's budget would rival the $1 billion that each of the two major parties expects to spend on 2016, making it a significant political force.
The money for 2016's presidential and congressional races more than doubles the $407 million that the 17 groups funded by Freedom Partners spent on 2012's elections, the Post reported. Freedom Partners-funded groups include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several tea party organizations.
The money is to be used for field operations, new technology, policy work, advertising, data gathering and grass-roots activities.
The group, which includes brothers Charles and David Koch — billionaire industrialists who built Koch Industries into the second largest privately held corporation in the United States — and hundreds of other right-leaning donors, has yet to decide whether it will fund GOP primaries or wait until the general election to become involved, the Post reported.
"Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism," Charles Koch told the group on Saturday. "But as many of you know, we don't rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it."
Freedom Partners President Marc Short told the Post that the Republican gains of 2014 were nice, "but there’s a long way to go." The group aims to make free-market ideals central in American society, he said.
Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren't interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The Kochs taking sides in a primary would be no small deal, conservative activist Grover Norquist told the Post.
"It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, 'We’re all for this guy.' But if he said, 'I really like this guy' and did an op-ed, it would matter."
While the Koch-backed groups are tremendously effective, even some of their allies eyed the latest budget figure with wariness.
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican who now heads the American Bankers Association and who calls the Kochs "wonderful human beings," lamented the ballooning role of outside groups in politics.
"This is the new normal," Keating said.
Democrats paint the Kochs as an evil force in politics, and Ben Ray of Democrat-aligned American Bridge called the group's budget "an obscene amount of money."
"If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the [Republican] presidential candidates will listen to," Ray told USA Today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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