AP – Bloomberg News – Conservative billionaires Charles, left, and David Koch have built a massive political network that shields the identities of its donors through a maze of organizations, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.
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By Matea Gold, Published: January 5
The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.
The filings show that the network of politically active nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs and fellow donors in the 2012 elections financially outpaced other independent groups on the right and, on its own, matched the long-established national coalition of labor unions that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats.
Inside the Koch-backed political donor network
Matea Gold JAN 5
A spokesman for Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch, on their ties to a wide network of political donors.
The makeup of the coalition of conservative groups, as of 2012.
The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.
Key players in the Koch-backed network have already begun engaging in the 2014 midterm elections, hiring new staff members to expand operations and strafing House and Senate Democrats with hard-hitting ads over their support for the Affordable Care Act.
Its funders remain largely unknown; the coalition was carefully constructed with extensive legal barriers to shield its donors.
But they have substantial firepower. Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign, according to the analysis of tax returns by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.
A labyrinth of tax-exempt groups and limited-liability companies helps mask the sources of the money, much of which went to voter mobilization and television ads attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats, according to tax filings and campaign finance reports.
The coalition’s revenue surpassed that of the Crossroads organizations, a super PAC and nonprofit group co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove that together brought in $325 million in the last cycle.