Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is taking aim at the Koch brothers for their decision to get involved in Democrat primaries in a new fundraising campaign.
In a series of Facebook ads launched Friday, Ocasio-Cortez castigated the billionare duo for trying to subvert the Democrat Party to back their libertarian agenda.
“The Koch Brothers–the dark money backbone of the Republican Party–have decided to diversify their political portfolio beyond the GOP,” one ad reads. “Charles and David Koch think they can buy the Democratic Party as easily as they bought the Republican Party.”
“But, thanks to small-dollar donors and vocal, grassroots supporters like you, we know that their bank accounts won’t stop our movement,” it continues. “Can you chip in $5 to fuel our small-dollar donor movement and stand up against the Koch Brothers?”
Other ads accuse the Kochs of trying to protect Democrat incumbents from primaries “because they know we are closer than ever to passing Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and higher taxes on the rich.”
Each of the ads link to a donation page where supporters can help with “building the movement.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who catapulted onto the national stage by ousting then-House Democratic Conference Chair Joe Crowley in a primary last year, is running the ads across the country. It is unclear how much the ads cost or whether they will be expanded to other fundraising mediums.
The congresswoman’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
On Monday, the Koch brothers’s political action network announced it would begin supporting elected officials, including Democrats, committed to “free expression,” amnesty for illegal immigrants, “economic opportunity,” and free trade absolutism. In a memo to staff, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—the Koch Brother’ chief political arm—pledged to create four new political action committees to fund incumbents backing such “nonpartisan solutions.”
“The threat of being primaried prevents policymakers from leading on difficult issues and driving principled policy reforms,” the group’s president wrote.
AFP’s commitment has the potential to make a big impact, especially when most primary challenges struggle to raise money against entrenched incumbents. In her primary campaign, Ocasio-Cortez only raised roughly $300,000 to Crowley’s $3.3 million. AFP and it’s affiliate AFP Action in comparison spent a combined total of more than $25 million on congressional races that year. Of that total, more than $11 million was spent against Democrats directly.
“Campaigns like ours–powered by vision and empathy instead of super PAC dark money–aren’t ‘supposed’ to win elections,” Ocasio-Cortez says in one of her ads.
The Kochs’ decision comes at a time when their clout in the GOP has diminished. After having refused to back President Donald Trump in 2016 because of immigration and trade, the Kochs have strongly opposed many of the administration’s efforts.
Tension between the president and the libertarian billionares came to a boil during the 2018 election cycle. In a move many saw as an attempt to reassert control over the GOP, the Kochs publicly refused to fund candidates insufficiently committed to their views on free markets. The snub was particularly felt by candidates in key states where Trump had won in 2016, but Democrats still continued to hold office.
At the time, Trump derided the Kochs as “a total joke” for placing their financial self interest above the nation.
The Kochs’ move, however, backfired. Many of the candidates jettisoned, such as Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), won their races after Trump stepped up to mobilize resources and support. Meanwhile, candidates the Kochs made a concerted effort to get elected – like Adam Laxalt, the GOP nominee for governor of Nevada, went on to lose.
Apart from losing political clout, the Kochs have also been upstaged by Trump on the legislative front. Their long sought after pet project, prison reform, only passed Congress after Trump signaled his backing last December.
Americans for Prosperity did not return requests for comment on this story.
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