Elections

Trump who? Here’s where Koch Industries’ PAC is spending in 2016

Charles Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, is one of the most influential conservative donors.
Charles Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, is one of the most influential conservative donors. Wichita Eagle

The Koch Industries political action committee has spent more than $1 million on House and Senate races this election cycle, a sum that could expand as Republicans attempt to shore up their majority in Congress.

Billionaire Charles Koch, the company’s chairman and CEO, is widely known for supporting conservative candidates and causes.

Koch has contributed $6 million to Freedom Partners, a group that’s not affiliated with any campaigns but buys advertising that’s helping Senate Republicans in competitive states.

Koch has been critical recently of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and the contributions to House and Senate candidates may indicate a strategy to invest in the Republican majority in case Trump loses to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Freedom Partners Action Fund is focused on supporting freedom-oriented candidates in the Senate,” said James Davis, a spokesman. “The current majority is preferable on a range of issues, particularly their support to protect free speech.”

Democrats need to pick up only five seats to flip the Senate. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates six Republican seats as toss-ups, but only one seat held by a Democrat.

The Koch Industries political action committee, KochPAC, gave nothing to Trump.

$1 million Investment in 2016 by the Koch Industries PAC in congressional races

As of April 30, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, KochPAC had invested more than $715,000 in House races, and another $161,500 in Senate races. The PAC also gave $10,000 to the failed presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

According to the PAC’s May monthly report, filed on Tuesday morning, it contributed another $125,000 to congressional candidates, leadership PACs and party committees.

KochPAC has contributed $120,000 each to the two GOP fundraising arms of Congress: the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

$120,000 Investment by KochPAC in the House and Senate Republican fundraising arms

It also has given $142,000 to Team Ryan, a joint fundraising committee of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; his leadership PAC, Prosperity Action; and the NRCC.

KochPAC has contributed about $450,000 to the leadership PACs of individual lawmakers. Leadership PACs are a vehicle for lawmakers to raise funds for the party and other candidates but are not supposed to coordinate with their campaign committees.

Charles Koch has personally contributed $6 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC that has spent heavily on advertising against Democrats in competitive Senate races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nevada. It also has spent on advertising against Clinton.

$142,000 Investment by KochPAC in Team Ryan, a joint fundraising committee of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Unlike ordinary PACs, which are bound by restrictions on contributions, super PACs can receive unlimited contributions so long as the PAC does not give money directly to a candidate or coordinate with a candidate how it spends its money.

KochPAC has helped numerous Republicans in House and Senate races, many of them competitive. Notable candidates receiving $10,000 contributions include Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Boozman of Arkansas and Rob Portman of Ohio.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who faces a Republican primary challenge in August, received $10,000 from KochPAC. Other House Republican candidates in competitive races also received that amount: Mike Coffman of Colorado, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Will Hurd of Texas, Lee Zeldin of New York and Frank Guinta of New Hampshire.

$450,000 Contributions by KochPAC to Republican lawmakers’ leadership PACs

KochPAC has supported only one Democrat in the 2016 election, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, is a climate-change skeptic.

Peterson was one of four Democrats to vote in favor of a Republican resolution of disapproval in December on U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. Those plans largely rely on an increase in renewable energy sources and a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.

Koch Industries, a conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., has subsidiaries involved in the production and refining of oil and natural gas and chemical manufacturing. It also owns or operates a network of pipelines that transport crude oil, refined products and natural gas liquids.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

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