Koch network adds super PAC to its arsenal, expanding into overt political activity


LEFT - Charles G. Koch - AP RIGHT - David Koch - Bloomberg

The main financial arm of a network of politically active nonprofits backed by conservative donors such as Charles and David Koch is moving into overt political activities, launching a super PAC to engage in this year’s midterms.

The move by Freedom Partners,  first reported by Politico, will give the group a vehicle to spend money more efficiently on elections.

As a tax-exempt business lobby, Freedom Partners cannot devote the majority of its funds to political activities. Instead, like other groups in the Koch-backed network, it runs so-called “issue ads” that stop short of calling for the election or defeat of a candidate.

But its super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund, can be full-throated in its campaigning. It plans to spend more than $15 million in the run-up to November’s elections, according to Politico.

A spokesman for Freedom Partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move comes as the Koch-backed network is ramping up its plans for 2014, with a goal of raising $290 million, according to the Daily Beast. In the 2012 cycle, the network brought in $407 million, according to an analysis by the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics.

The foray into explicit campaign activities is unusual for the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits and limited liability corporations that was designed to cloak the identities of its financial backers.

The super PAC, on the other hand, will have to report its donors to the Federal Election Commission. The group could still find ways to protect the names of its contributors, however, if donors give money through LLCs registered in states such as Delaware, which allow corporate officers to remain a secret.

 

Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.

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