An exclusive memo obtained by the Intercept and Documented named the Koch brothers as the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump presidency. The billionaire industrialist brothers have traditionally been heavy donors to the conservative agenda, but the memo reveals a staggering depth of planning and foresight in shaping America’s policies under Trump. Apart from funding GOP lawmakers, a group of billionaires led by the Koch brothers has spent extensively on third-party organizations to pressure officials to act swiftly in reaching policy goals.
Some of the most prominent policy achievements from the Koch bucket-list include successfully “rolling back limits on pollution, approving new pipeline projects, and extending the largest set of upper-income tax breaks in generations.”
The memo brought into perspective achievements instigated by the Koch brothers but brought to fruition by Donald Trump. The Koch brothers have long sought to repeal the EPA Clean Power Plan but had not been able to do so under Obama. Now it is close to a repeal. The billionaire brothers also planned and lobbied through third-party organizations to get the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which was also highlighted as a key achievement in the memo.
“This year, thanks in part to research and outreach efforts across institutions, we have seen progress on many regulatory priorities this Network has championed for years,” the memo states.
Among the third-party organizations funded by the Koch network are Capitol Hill lobbyists, a polling and research outfit with hundreds of field staff. The Koch brothers also fund groups designed to air campaign ads and create grassroots groups explicitly to appeal to specific communities. The LIBRE community is the brothers selling their policies to the Latino community, and they reach out to millennials through a group called Generation Opportunity, while Veterans for America — as the name suggests — reaches out to war veterans.
The amount of effort and long-term planning that the Koch brothers have done can be simply gauged by their work away from Washington. To get the biggest tax overhaul passed in Congress, for example, the Koch network organized over 100 rallies in 36 states, contacted more than 1.8 million activists and knocked on over 33,000 doors. They also spent millions on TV ads at just the state level.
Soon after the tax bill was approved, Charles Koch donated $500,000 to Speaker Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising leadership PAC, which increased its threshold for donations.
The Koch brothers were earlier reported to have flirted with the idea of overthrowing Donald Trump by replacing him with Paul Ryan at the Republican National Convention but refrained from doing so. Their access to Trump’s White House remains unprecedented, though, with the president’s lawyer Don McGahn, the president’s chief liaison to Congress Marc Short, and Kellyanne Conway all having been employees of the Koch network before taking up positions in the Trump administration. The vice-president is also known to be close friends with the Koch brothers.
The memo also revealed the Koch brothers’ plans to spend $400 million this year before the midterms in order to preserve the GOP majority both in Congress and at the state level.