In an interview with ABC News, fossil-fuel tycoon and billionaire Republican financier Charles Koch said that he and his brother David would not attend the GOP convention in July. “Why go?” he asked. “We’re not interested in politics.”
“We’re interested in moving us towards a culture and policies that will enable people to improve their lives,” Koch told ABC. And how! Koch Industries dropped nearly $25 million in the 2014 mid-term election cycle, including $10.8 million in contributions to candidates and super PACs and $13.7 million on lobbyists. Last year, before Donald Trump threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, it was reported that the Kochs were planning to spend $889 million on the 2016 election.
Now, the Koch brothers are apparently open to supporting Hillary Clinton over a Republican candidate. Whether that is actually true and what form that support would actually take remain open questions; in any case, Clinton was quick to disavow them.
Not interested in endorsements from people who deny climate science and try to make it harder for people to vote. https://t.co/TWN4zYhMBh— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 24, 2016
“We’re not for somebody because they’re Republican or against them because they are Democrat,” Koch said. “If the Democrats will do a better job, we would support them.” And yet, in the last mid-term elections, Koch Industries gave $2.1 million to Republican congressional candidates and a measly $32,000 to Democratic candidates. Incumbents received $1.6 million from Koch Industries, and non-incumbents received only $509,000: the GOP gained control of the Senate for the first time since 2006, and increased their House majority.
Perhaps most absurdly, Koch told ABC that he and his brother would like to get the money out of politics: “The only way to get the money out is get all the goodies that the government’s giving to special interests out, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“We now have two-year presidential campaigns, which is all everybody talks about. It’s because we have this system of control and dependency, so everybody is dependent, including big companies, on the government to set the rules to give them an advantage.”
But even if the Kochs have stayed out of the presidential race thus far, they’re not out of politics altogether: According to its most recent FEC filing, the Kochs’ primary political organ, Freedom Partners Action Fund, contributed $100,000 to a group supporting the gubernatorial campaign of West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole. Freedom Partners also spent $1.8 million opposing the senate campaign of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, who is running against the Republican incumbent Rob Portman.
“We’re not going to get in any campaign where we believe that we can’t make a difference,” Koch said.