The two groups at the heart of the Koch brothers’ political network spent a combined $100 million on competitive races in 2014, spokesmen for the organizations tell National Journal.
Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit organization that serves as the Koch brothers’ flagship political enterprise, spent $77 million on competitive Senate and House races, said spokesman Levi Russell. That total includes $56 million from AFP on TV, radio, and digital ads and direct mail, and another $21 million on grassroots efforts from their state chapters.
Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC, is slated to spend $25 million by the time the cycle finishes, said spokesman Bill Riggs, including the $2.1 million it has reserved for the runoff Senate race in Louisiana.
The pair worked in tandem this year: AFP bombarded the TV airwaves early in key Senate races to coincide with the botched implementation of Obamacare, softening up many Democratic incumbents before many of their campaigns had even kicked into gear. The groups’ staggering spending figures will be credited with helping Republicans create what is shaping up to be a wave election for the party.
“The biggest decision strategically that we made was going so early with our ad effort,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “When we launched last year, it was probably unprecedented for an off-year cycle. I don’t recall anyone spending tens of millions in early September through Memorial Day in an off-year.”
By the summer, AFP had switched its emphasis to its grassroots network while Freedom Partners started spending heavily on the air.
Democrats tried to make the Koch brothers a centerpiece of their campaign, a move that elicited criticism but one party strategists vowed would make Republicans look like puppets of a pair of selfish billionaires. Nobody railed harder against them than Harry Reid, who took to the Senate floor earlier this year to argue they were trying to “buy our democracy.”
That strategy will likely be heavily scrutinized by Democratic operatives as they try to determine how the party suffered such deep losses. It’s unlikely Republicans will offer the same scrutiny to the Koch network.
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Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
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Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."