Once again, Koch brothers decline to meet with Trump
Despite entreaties from several donors in the Koch brothers network of political fundraisers, Charles and David Koch are refusing to meet with GOP nominee Donald Trump about donating to his campaign.
Both Trump and the Kochs are in Colorado Springs this weekend for separate purposes; Trump is fundraising while the Kochs are hosting a summit of their network of activists and organizations. But it appears that Charles Koch has irrevocably decided not to urge his vast network of fundraisers to help Trump, a potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Trump in turn has blasted the Kochs and other major conservative donors as puppeteers to whom his GOP primary rivals were beholden, while he touted the independence from Big Money he said he achieved by largely self-financing his campaign.
But the billionaire first-time candidate has dialed back his anti-donor rhetoric since he clinched the GOP nomination and began active fundraising for a general election campaign in which his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and her allies are expected to spend upward of $1.5 billion.
The billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, meanwhile, are being urged to reconsider their opposition to Trump by some of the donors in their network who are supporting the Manhattan tycoon, including Minnesota media mogul Stanley S. Hubbard and Dallas investor Ray Washburne, according to the two Republicans familiar with the outreach.
The Republicans, who travel in political finance circles, requested anonymity to discuss private talks. They said that the pro-Trump cohort had lobbied for a Friday meeting.
The Koch brothers and Trump are in town for separate events — Trump for a fundraiser, and the Kochs for the kickoff of the annual summer summit of their donor network at a tony resort in Colorado Springs.
But the Republicans familiar with the push said top Koch aides rejected the idea of a meeting.
“It is not going to happen,” said one of the Republicans, adding that the Kochs appear unlikely to back away from their repeated declarations that they don’t plan to spend any money in the presidential race, and will instead refocus their spending down ballot.
Washburne, who is helping to lead Trump’s fundraising effort, did not respond to requests for a comment. The Trump campaign also did not respond to a request for comment.
Another Trump donor who participates in Koch summits, Doug Deason, told Reuters that he was also pushing for a meeting, explaining, “We think it’s really important that Donald convince Charles he’s the right guy, and for Charles to influence Donald’s policies.”
James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch-backed group Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the Colorado Springs summit, said that there is no meeting planned between Trump and the Kochs.
All is not lost for Trump. His people can reach out to individual donors in the Koch network and tap them for cash. But the dozens of political action committees and organizations making contributions to political campaigns in the network usually follow the lead of the brothers.
There's no way to sugar coat what this means to the Trump campaign. It is likely that Hillary Clinton will outspend the Trump campaign by at least 5-1. As far as paid advertising, it probably matters less than the huge advantage Clinton will have in the field. In a close race, in battleground states, Clinton's massive field operation could make the difference between victory and defeat.