The Slatest

Powerful Koch Donor Network Reportedly Will Once Again Refuse to Back Trump in 2020 Race

President Trump speaks on trade tariffs in the Cabinet Room on Jan. 24, 2019. -
President Trump speaks on trade tariffs in the Cabinet Room on Jan. 24, 2019. -
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s reelection effort in 2020 will not have the financial support of Koch money, the Washington Post reported Thursday, as the powerful conservative donor network has been quietly informing other major donors of its plan to sit out the 2020 presidential race. The “Koch brothers” have a cast a large shadow over conservative politics over the past decade-plus, as well as commanded attention of the left as the oft-vilified big business financier of the GOP. The slightly recast Koch donor network, following the retirement of David Koch last year, has been at odds with President Trump dating back to the 2016 campaign, when it refused to endorse the Republican nominee for president.

The Koch network, led by Charles Koch, will continue to be active in the 2020 cycle down the ballot, according to a spokesman, including “significant investment to support policy champions in Senate, House and state races, build broad-based policy coalitions, and to launch a major new initiative to fight poverty in America.” The continued unwillingness of the Koch network to back President Trump—while working with his administration on select issues—has irked some in the GOP donor class. The RNC has also sparred with the network now that there is daylight between the Koch libertarian-leaning priorities and the current Trump-infused Republican Party that brandishes protectionist economic policies. “Some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party,” the RNC wrote—unironically—in an letter to supporters in August after the Koch network announced it was considering backing Democrats.

“In the past year, the libertarian-leaning operation has increasingly stressed the importance of working with both parties, saying that closely aligning itself with the GOP in recent years has not netted the policy gains it hoped to achieve,” according to the Post. “In a Jan. 2 email to donors obtained by The Washington Post, Koch network chairman Brian Hooks highlighted a list of policy priorities the network plans to pursue in 2019, including income inequality, education initiatives, an overhaul of the criminal-justice system and a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as ‘dreamers.’”