Changing priorities for Koch donor network doesn't include support for Trump in 2020
Representatives from Charles Koch's extensive network of political and ideological organizations is meeting in Palm Springs this weekend, mapping out initial strategies for the 2020 general election.
One thing is certain; the network will not be supporting Donald Trump's re-election. But Charles Koch says it's more important to "unite with anybody to do right."
"This network has taken its effectiveness to a whole new level," Koch said.
The meeting held at a luxury resort in the California desert caters to donors who have committed to giving at least $100,000 annually to the sprawling Koch Network of political, policy, educational and philanthropic organizations. There are 634 donors attending the retreat, including 181 of them as first-timers.
Prominent Koch donor Doug Deason of Texas said the reported infighting between Koch and Trump was "old news" and that conservatives have united, especially after Democrats took control of the House.
"I just don't think there was a huge amount of animosity. It was blown out of proportion," Deason said.
Long seen as GOP kingmakers best known for their pro-business agenda, libertarian leanings and support for the tea party movement, David and Charles Koch have in recent years made waves by lambasting Trump and his administration.
They refused to back Trump during the 2016 election, vowed to hold him accountable to conservative priorities like free trade, free markets and small government and have been outspoken against the White House on immigration and infrastructure spending.
Trump in 2018 responded on Twitter by slamming the Kochs as "a total joke in real Republican circles" who "are against strong borders and powerful trade."
Some donors had publicly expressed disappointment over the Koch Network's battles with Trump, but the network is unfazed. Koch recently announced it won't support Trump's 2020 re-election bid and instead would back races for the U.S. Senate and House and state legislative seats to make the greatest impact.
"We've found overwhelming support that reaffirms the strengths of our partnerships. This is borne out by the fact that we will welcome our largest group of supporters this weekend in Palm Springs," Koch Network spokesman James Davis said in a statement.
How powerful are the Koch brothers? Liberals think they are evildoers who work against the interests of the common man. It's hard to see the mild mannered Kochs as anything except savvy organizers who have their own agenda.
They have been less than successful in funding winning GOP candidates - especially in Senate races. But the last few years, they have been devoting more money to driving issues rather than electing politicians. Some of those issues, including immigration reform, don't sit well with many conservatives. But despite giving less money to candidates, they still carry enormous weight in the Republican party.
In 2020, the Koch's are expected to funnel up to half a billion dollars to candidates, most of them Republican. Love them or hate them, their impact on Republican politics is enormous and its hard to see a GOP victory of any kind in 2020 without them.