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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The Signal app is fast becoming the new favorite among those who are obsessed with the security and untraceabilty of their messaging. Just ask the Democratic National Committee. Or Edward Snowden. As Vanity Fair reports, before news ever broke that the DNC's servers had been hacked, word went out among the organization that the word "Trump" should never be used in their emails, lest it attract hackers' attention. Not long after, all Trump-related messages, especially disparaging ones, would need to be encrypted via the Snowden-approved Signal.
The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.
According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.
"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.