Billionaire industrialist and conservative benefactor Charles Koch’s expansive political network will not help Donald Trump win the presidency.
That’s the message from one of the Koch network’s chief lieutenants as hundreds of the nation’s most powerful Republican donors gathered for a weekend retreat yesterday.
With Election Day just three months away, Koch lamented the state of the 2016 contest during a welcome reception inside a luxury hotel at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
“We don’t really, in some cases, don’t really have good options,” Koch said of the “current political situation.” The ambitious Koch network has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to influence politics and public policy over the last decade. It won’t spend anything to help the Republican presidential nominee directly in 2016, even though it may evoke Hillary Clinton in attacks of Democratic congressional candidates, said Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president of Koch Industries.
None of the presidential candidates are aligned with the Koch network “from a values, and beliefs and policy perspective,” Holden said, citing other determining factors such as “running a good campaign” and talking about key issues “in a positive productive way.”
“Based on that, we’re focused on the Senate,” Holden said, noting that the Koch network has devoted around $42 million so far to television and digital advertising to benefit Republican Senate candidates.
The comments came yesterday, the first day in the three-day exclusive gathering for donors who promise to give at least USD 100,000 each year to the various groups backed by the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners a network of education, policy and political entities that aim to promote a smaller, less intrusive government.
At least three governors, four senators and four members of the House of Representatives are also scheduled to attend, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. Republican presidential candidates have been featured at past Koch gatherings but not this one.
Neither Trump nor any Trump representatives participated in the event, even though the White House contender campaigned in the same city the day before. It’s unclear if Trump was invited.
“I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch,” Trump tweeted yesterday. “Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!” Holden declined to say whether the Kochs sought a meeting with Trump.