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The Koch network plans to spend nearly $1 billion on the 2016 elections

David Koch, in 2011.
David Koch, in 2011.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

  1. The billionaire Koch brothers' network of wealthy conservative donors plans to raise $889 million for the 2016 elections, the Washington Post's Matea Gold and Politico's Ken Vogel reported Monday.
  2. The astonishing number is far more than an organized outside group network has ever raised during a political campaign cycle. Indeed, it's more than either the Democratic or Republican Party raised from 2011-2012, according to tallies by the Center for Responsive Politics placing the parties' fundraising at about $800 million each.
  3. Furthermore, unlike donations to political parties, the details of the Koch network's fundraising can be kept secret. The network has many members beyond Charles and David Koch, and while some of their names have leaked to the press, the names of others — and the amounts they contribute — are unknown.

Could the Kochs swing the GOP primary?

Importantly, Gold also reports that the group's officials were exploring whether the network's members "would coalesce around a single candidate" in the crowded Republican presidential field. Back in 2011 and 2012, Koch network-funded groups stayed out of the GOP primary, preferring instead to focus their spending on trying to defeat President Obama and Democrats.

A major financial investment from the Koch network this time around could significantly affect the primary. For instance, it could further bolster the prospects of an "establishment" candidate like Jeb Bush. Bush has quite a conservative record on economic and business issues, and he's not too far away from the Kochs on immigration reform.

But the network could also provide a major base of financial support to a candidate less well-known to the DC lobbyist crowd — for instance, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who reportedly attended the Koch network event last weekend. Walker won the loyalty of many conservative donors by battling against unions — they could pay him back by giving him the funds necessary to let him go toe to toe with Bush, Mitt Romney, or Chris Christie. Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul also attended last weekend's Koch network event.

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