Thursday, January 31, 2019

Koch machine stresses coalition-building in 2019

The Daily 202: The Koch network donor retreat turns touchy-feely - The Washington Post - James Hohmann with Joanie Greve:

January 28, 2019 - "Liberal activist Van Jones protested the Koch brothers outside their donor meeting in 2011. Groups funded by the billionaire-backed network had successfully clamored for his ouster as President Barack Obama’s green jobs czar two years earlier, labeling him a dangerous radical.

"At the 2019 Koch seminar, however, there is a giant banner with Jones’s smiling face.... He’s literally become the poster child for how the network of conservative and libertarian donors hopes to seek out unlikely allies to advance its agenda. Jones, now a CNN talking head, recorded a video with Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden about their partnership to pass the First Step Act, a sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system that President Trump signed into law last month.

"That’s been the vibe here in the Coachella Valley all weekend as the network aggressively seeks to rebrand itself as kinder, gentler and less political.

"Wearing purple, the color of bipartisanship, industrialist Charles Koch — who remains a boogeyman on the left — declared that his top goal is 'uniting with people across the whole spectrum, including those who have been adversaries in the past,' to pursue shared priorities. 'This attitude of holding things against others who have different beliefs is tearing our country apart,' the 83-year-old said during a cocktail reception on Saturday night. 'What we need to do, and what we’re doing, is bringing people together'....

"Charles has concluded that reaching across the aisle to build coalitions is the best way to maximize his network’s impact with a president in the White House he personally doesn’t like but whom many members of his network do. The network plans to stay out of the presidential race again in 2020, as it did in 2016....

"Even though the president has attacked Koch personally, network officials were still able to work constructively with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on criminal justice.... Indeed, the president’s son-in-law appeared in the same video as Jones. 'One of the things that really surprised people, including myself, was how broad the coalition we were able to build was,' Kushner said....

"In past years, network leaders announced how much money they planned to spend on politics and policy in the upcoming election cycle. This year, they’re not providing a target. Brian Hooks, the chairman of the Seminar Network, which includes the constellation of Koch groups, said they still plan to devote 'significant resources' but that the opportunities will dictate the amount. 'We see this as the next big step forward in the evolution of this network,' Hooks said."

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