Leaders of the influential conservative network Americans for Prosperity, financed by conservative billionaire Charles Koch, are distancing themselves from the Republican Party, and they’re asking their top donors to support them in a new endeavor – supporting Democratic lawmakers who share their same priorities.
According to BuzzFeed, network donors have not been successful in getting Donald Trump to embrace their conservative agenda – aside from tax policy, court nominations and some deregulation. The frustration is causing them to support Democrats as the nation approaches the heated midterm elections.
At the Koch’s network summit in Colorado Springs on Sunday, a seminar was held titled “Transforming the network’s effectiveness.” Emily Seidel, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity, announced the group is willing to work with Democrats who are interested in reducing government spending and cutting back on financial regulations.
Speaking to the group of 500 donors and at least two Republican legislators Seidel said, “I know this is uncomfortable,” and continued, “If you are a Democrat and stand up to [Senator] Elizabeth Warren to corral enough votes for financial reform that breaks barriers for community banks and families, you’re darn right we will work with you.”
The network’s CEO then warned Republicans who voted for the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed last March, “If you are a Republican who sits on the committee that wrote the worst spending bill in our country’s history and you voted for it, you’re darn right we will hold you accountable.”
Even Charles Koch told reporters he’s not opposed to backing Democrats. When asked if he was okay with Democrats taking back the House in 2018, he replied that he hopes to see people in power who will back policies that will “move toward a society, mutual benefit, equal rights, where everybody has the opportunity to realize their full potential. I don’t care what initials are in front or after somebody’s name.”
The change in attitude by Koch and his network is, in part, based on GOP initiatives which include Trump’s decision to implement import tariffs.
Koch admitted that a full-scale trade war could emerge between the United States and trading partners such as China and The European Union, saying, “If it’s severe enough it could.”
This is more a message to the Republican Party than support for Democratic priorities. Money is the game. If GOP candidates don’t support the Koch’s vision of conservative policy, they not only risk losing financial backing from top donors, they might see that money go to their political rival.