A raft of Republican presidential candidates, senators, House members and governors heaped praise on the Kochs and their donors for their patriotism, commitment to free market ideals — and the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve sunk into boosting conservative politicians and policies.
The Kochs and the 450 donors gathered for a three-day political and policy summit here, organized by the Koch network’s umbrella group Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, are among the most generous conservative backers. Appearances at past meetings have boosted the campaigns of several aspiring Republican politicians. And many of the donors gathered at the St. Regis Monarch Beach luxury resort are being hotly courted by GOP presidential candidates, a number of whom met with donors on the conference’s sidelines, while also wooing them in group addresses.
A trio of freshman senators elected in 2014 — Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Dan Sullivan of Alaska — during a Saturday evening panel credited Koch network donors for helping the GOP take control of the Senate that year.
And Sullivan, whose campaign was boosted by Koch-backed funding, said that “the group you helped us elect — and I’ll speak for my class — it’s a great group.”
“The main point of this weekend’s seminar is not the elected officials or the candidates,” said Art Pope, a longtime Koch network donor from North Carolina who is the CEO and chairman of Variety Wholesalers. “In fact, it’s not about candidates at all. It is more about policies and issues.”