Charles and David Koch are arguably the most powerful political donors in America, turning their personal successes stemming from their business empire into a fundraising machine for right-wing politicians. But protecting the right-wing apparently doesn’t just mean electing Republicans anymore.
The Koch-founded political organization Americans for Prosperity has been a powerhouse for the Republican party, but an internal memo suggests that AFP is open to supporting candidates regardless of party. The $15.5 million AFP spent aiding Republicans in 2018 might cross the aisle in 2020. Though surprising, the move is not wholly unexpected — AFP signaled a willingness to work with Democrats aligned with their values last July.
“Support the primary election of lawmakers, regardless of political party, who stick their necks out to lead diverse policy coalitions,” read the memo, authored by AFP CEO Emily Seidel. “The threat of being primaried prevents policymakers from leading on difficult issues and driving principled policy reforms. AFP or AFP Action will be ready to engage contested U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state-level primary races, including Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise, to support sitting legislators who lead by uniting with others to pass principled policy and get good things done.”
The memo stated that AFP will begin announcing candidates it will support in the coming weeks. Given the language of the memo, it seems likely that the Democrats it supports will be centrist incumbents.
The shift to a more bipartisan approach might seem a shocking departure, but as GQ argues it may be motivated out of fear of another surprise progressive like that of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). GQ characterized the Kochs’ move as ominous, especially considering how their involvement in Democratic primaries would work hand-in-hand with a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that sits far to the right of Democratic voters.
Although the uneasy comfort between the DCCC and the Kochs might remind some of the old adage, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ one thing is certain: both are fighting the rise of progressive candidates.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.