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Explainer: How the Kochs and their allies plan to spend $889 million

David Koch and his brother are ready to spend big on 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Since the news broke that Charles and David Koch and other wealthy conservative donors aim to spend $889 million over the next two years, political strategists in both parties have been trying to digest what impact that eye-popping sum could have on the 2016 elections.

But not all that money will go to organizations that engage in the political arena, such as the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity or super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund.

Officials said Wednesday that the budget includes financing not just for politically active groups, but also for free-market think tanks, foundations and universities. And so, along with paying for grassroots organizing and ads targeting politicians, the donations will be used to fund academic research, public policy centers and scholarships.

The network’s varied activities speaks to the huge institutional reach of the Kochs and their allies -- a level of influence that's hard to track. The vast majority of the organizations that the donor group funds do not disclose their contributors.

An investigation last year by the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics found that 17 conservative groups in the Koch-backed political network together raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign. The network's financial muscle was comparable to the roughly $400 million that unions plowed into national, state and local elections in 2012.

The Post-CRP analysis included money brought in by Freedom Partners, which functions as a feeder fund for the rest of the network, as well as recipient groups such as AFP, Generation Opportunity and Concerned Veterans for America. It did not include money raised by educational or charitable entities, such as the Charles Koch Foundation or the Charles Koch Institute.