Democrats are trying once again to dig deeply into the billionaire Koch brothers'
business practices in hopes of thwarting their plans to spend more than $889 million toward the 2016 election.
However, reports Politico
, pro-Democrat outside groups are representing some of the same people who tried — and failed — to sway voters by spending millions in the 2014 race to discredit Charles and David Koch. But they say that they are planning a more thorough approach this time around, and plan a deeper focus on the Kochs' operations.
Earlier this week, representatives from pro-Democrat groups such as the AFL-CIO, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Center for American Progress, Correct the Record and Planned Parenthood met behind closed doors to hear from experts and discuss strategies.
The meeting was hosted by the opposition research group American Bridge, which has been spending resources on state reports on the Kochs' environmental record, layoffs and outsourcing, and how they have affected key swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Iowa.
Paul Tencher, who was Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peters' campaign manager, and Guy Molyneux of Hart Research spoke to the group.
While their focus on the Kochs did not yield many wins in 2014, Democrats often point to Peters' win, saying that the anti-Koch push helped get him elected. Tencher told the people at the meeting that the Peters campaign connected his opponent, Terri Lynn Land, to the Koch brothers.
Other outside groups used the same approach to fight back against Land, including environmentalist Tom Steyer's super PAC, which spent money on ads that connected her as well.
But while the same strategy was not successful nationwide, people at Tuesday's meeting said it was not to blame for the Democrats' heavy losses in the midterm elections.
"It's not a black and white thing," said Ben Ray, spokesman for American Bridge.
"We and our allies are dedicated to fighting the Kochs. We are certainly not going to sit back and take it."
Molyneux's research, done last year, also gave some data points showing that even though only half of all Americans know who the Koch brothers are, 42 percent still had an unfavorable opinion, compared to 7 percent with favorable opinions.
"That issue polls very powerfully," said New York Rep. Steve Israel last month in Philadelphia, where Democrats were also working on their message on 2016.
"It fits directly into our message that one party is trying to protect the middle class, and the other is spending whatever it must to dismantle the middle class," said Israel. "The more relentless [the Kochs] are, the more negative a brand we will make them."
But the Kochs' backers say voters won't care about the Democrats' efforts.
"While they're building another campaign on baseless personal attacks, we'll stay focused on advancing policies that improve lives and increase prosperity for all Americans," said James Davis, who represents the Koch-backed Freedom Partners.
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