The Koch Network Is Ramping Up Activity Ahead of 2024 Election

by | Jan 15, 2024 | Politics, Corruption & Criminality

Nikki Haley (center) and her family at her 2024 presidential campaign announcement. Image: Wiki Commons

The Koch Network Is Ramping Up Activity Ahead of 2024 Election

by | Jan 15, 2024 | Politics, Corruption & Criminality

Nikki Haley (center) and her family at her 2024 presidential campaign announcement. Image: Wiki Commons

The Koch network has gotten behind Nikki Haley in a big way, having already conducted interviews with 6 million Republican voters, and will use that data to formulate strategy.

Republished with permission from OpenSecrets, by Mat Schumer and Anna Massoglia

Americans for Prosperity Action, the flagship political group at the center of an influential network founded by the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, is gearing up for the 2024 presidential election.

The super PAC, commonly known as AFP Action, kicked off the next phase of its campaign to support former U.N. Ambassador Nikky Haley’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Jan. 5 with a new wave of mailers, digital advertising and TV spots it projects will cost $27 million.

OpenSecrets’ analysis of Federal Election Commission filings reveals that AFP Action has already spent over $45.3 million in the 2024 election cycle. About $26.5 million was to support Haley while the super PAC targeted Trump and Biden with $9 million each in attack ads.

The new ad blitz targets key early-voting states including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as well as states that hold presidential nominating contests on Super Tuesday in March, including Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

AFP Action says it has contacted more than 650,000 voters since it endorsed Haley in November and is strategizing using information from interviews with more than 6 million Republican primary voters that were conducted in 2023.

A memo released by AFP Action explaining the group’s endorsement of Haley cites her recent momentum in the polls, and the super PAC’s new ads highlight Haley’s perceived “electability” against President Joe Biden.

“Nikki Haley is by far the strongest candidate Republicans could run against Joe Biden, and no one else is even close,” AFP Action director Nathan Nascimento said in a Jan. 5 statement. “Nikki Haley would boost Republicans up and down the ballot.”.

Although former President Donald Trump remains the frontrunner, polling aggregates compiled by FiveThirtyEight show that Haley rose in the polls over the course of the last three presidential debates while Florida Governor Ron Desantis’ numbers declined.

AFP Action previously backed Desantis’ 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign in Florida, though the organization clashed with his administration earlier this year over a Florida bill aimed at making it easier to sue news outlets for defamation.

The Kochs have a more nuanced relationship with Trump after butting heads with the former president on several issues during his time in the White House. The super PAC announced it would oppose Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy back in February 2023, several months before endorsing Haley but reiterated its commitment to spend tens of millions of dollars to help “push the Republican Party past” Trump.

“Americans for Prosperity has already lit millions of dollars on fire this primary only to watch President Donald Trump’s lead grow,” a spokesperson for the Trump-aligned super PAC Make America Great Again Inc. said of AFP Action’s endorsement of HaleyNo amount of money can break the bond President Trump has with voters. He kept his promises.”

Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity in 2004. Koch Industries and groups affiliated with the Koch advocacy network are also the primary funders of the AFP Action super PAC.

Another pair of major contributors to AFP Action is Jim and Rob Walton, two heirs to the Walmart fortune. The brothers each made a contribution of $5 million in April 2023.

During the 2022 election cycle, AFP Action spent more than $69 million on independent expenditures supporting Republican candidates running for Congress. The super PAC ended June with more than $77 million on hand, having spent over $4 million on federal disbursements according to its most recent FEC filing.

AFP Action spent over $2 million in 2023 on Google advertising targeting Trump and Biden’s presidential campaigns, or later supporting Haley.

Since August 2023, AFP Action has spent over $1.6 million more on digital ads through Facebook parent company Meta. Many of those ads attack Trump and Biden or support Haley, though others support candidates running for offices in Congress and state-level legislatures in Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Haley is the only presidential candidate the group has explicitly endorsed. But the Koch political network has been working to support conservative candidates at all levels in the 2024 election cycle and AFP Action has also thrown its weight behind several other Republican House candidates.

AFP Action announced on Jan. 4 that it supports Pat Harrigan, a Green Beret and firearms manufacturer, in the House race to replace Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to represent North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District.

“He knows that heavy-handed government has made it harder to start and grow businesses, made life more expensive and completely neglected veterans who deserve the care they were promised,” Tyler Voigt, a senior advisor to AFP Action, said in a written statement.

The super PAC has also made several recent endorsements of state legislative candidates in the state, as well as in other states across the country.

In September, OpenSecrets reported that Americans for Prosperity spent more than $1 million on the 2023 Virginia primary and general elections. According to its filing with the Louisiana Ethics Administration, Americans for Prosperity also spent nearly $1 million supporting Republican candidates in the Louisiana legislature.

That month, AFP Action announced its endorsement of five other congressional candidates, bringing its total slate of endorsed House candidates up to eleven.

Four of the five additional candidates AFP Action endorsed in September are Republicans challenging Democrats in districts that the National Republican Congressional Committee is trying to flip in 2024, Politico first reported.

Pennsylvania is a primary target of AFP Action’s spending as the state is catapulted into the limelight during the 2024 cycle. The super PAC’s endorsements in the state include state Sen. Ryan Mackensie’s bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District and state Rep. Robert Mercuri’s campaign to represent the state’s 17th Congressional District.

The super PAC also endorsed and spent on canvassing to support the Senate campaign of former Deputy National Security Advisor David McCormick, the former CEO of the Bridgewater Associates investment firm who is running for a seat held by three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) in Pennsylvania.

Polling indicates that McCormick is currently the Republican party’s runner-up in the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate primary but his campaign has quickly ramped up fundraising, raising $5.4 million in his first quarter as a 2024 candidate, according to Axios.

AFP Action’s Senate endorsements include Afghanistan War veteran Sam Brown, who is running to flip a Senate seat held by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) in Nevada, and has since spent on canvassing to boost the profile of the first-time candidate. Brown reportedly went on to break a new fundraising record in the final quarter of 2023, ending the year with a $1.85 million haul – more than any challenger to an incumbent running for reelection in Nevada history, according to Fox News.

Former Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett, who is running in a Michigan open seat currently held by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (R-Mich.), and former Ohio state Rep. Craig Riedel’s campaign in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District are also among the Republican candidates endorsed by AFP Action.



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