Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How a Network Led by the Billionaire Koch Brothers is Riding the Trump Wave

By Peter Stone

Despite deciding not to back Donald Trump financially with ads during the presidential election, the sprawling donor and advocacy network led by the multibillionaire Koch brothers is emerging as a winner in the transition.

Longtime ally Mike Pence is leading the transition team, and several veteran Koch network donors, operatives and political allies are poised to join the Trump administration when the new president takes office in January.

While Charles Koch and some network officials had tough words for Trump for some of his incendiary campaign rhetoric and positions this year, several mega-donors who back Koch-linked advocacy groups poured millions into Super Pacs and other fundraising efforts to boost Trump, and some of these donors have not been shy about flexing their muscles during the transition.

The Koch network, which says it spent about $250m this election cycle on politics and policy efforts, comprises several hundred donors who help underwrite numerous free-market, small-government advocacy groups. The network is spearheaded by Charles and David Koch, the libertarian-leaning brothers who control the $115bn-a-year energy and industrial behemoth Koch Industries.

Several Koch network donors who backed Trump, such as Robert Mercer, Joe Craft, Doug Deason, Harold Hamm, Diane Hendricks and Stan Hubbard, have reason to be pleased that his early cabinet picks align with their views on expanding fossil fuels, spurring charter schools, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and slashing government regulations and taxes.

One of Trump’s early cabinet selections, for instance, was Betsy DeVos as education secretary: DeVos is part of a multibillionaire family that have long been hefty donors to advocacy groups linked to the Kochs and championed charter schools and school choice, both popular causes in Koch world.

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