Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill

Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill
© Greg Nash

The fiscally conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity (AFP) on Thursday will launch a $4 million television and digital ad campaign hitting Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Fed chief lays out risks of trade war Doug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Ind.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate Dems lock in million in TV airtime Why does Congress keep playing political games on FBI oversight? MORE (D-Mo.) for voting against the GOP’s tax overhaul.

Donnelly and McCaskill are both up for reelection in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE won easily in 2016. Trump carried Missouri by nearly 20 points and won Indiana by about 19.


Republicans had been hopeful that a few red-state Democrats in the Senate would join them in supporting the tax overhaul, which was passed into law in December, but none did.

At the time, the tax bill was enormously unpopular. Recent polling, however, has shown voters warming to the law. Republicans are vowing to sell the tax overhaul to the public and run on the issue ahead of what is expected to be a difficult midterm election cycle for the GOP in 2018.

The AFP ads claim that tax reform has led to booming economies in Missouri and Indiana but that McCaskill and Donnelly put partisan politics over helping their constituents by voting against it.

“Tax reform is sweeping across Indiana,” the ad targeting Donnelly states. “Small businesses are growing. Paychecks are going up. Families are saving more for what matters. Hoosier pride is back. Sen. Joe Donnelly said he'd support tax cuts for hardworking Hoosiers, but when he had the chance he said 'no,' voting against tax cuts for you, standing with [Senate Majority Leader Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] and [House Minority Leader] Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiRoby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Overnight Health Care: Trump officials score a win against Planned Parenthood | Idaho residents to vote on Medicaid expansion | PhRMA, insurers weigh in on Trump drug pricing plan MORE [D-Calif.] instead of us. Tell Sen. Donnelly to put Hoosier jobs first.”

The ad targeting McCaskill features an almost identical statement.

Reps. Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaHillicon Valley: California eyes tough net neutrality law | Trump taps chief for DHS tech research arm | Huawei hits back at US restrictions | Republican wants Google antitrust probe | Ex-cyber worker charged with trying to sell stolen tech House Republican urges regulators to probe Google for antitrust violations These three Democrats are no sure thing in November MORE (R-Ind.) and Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserRepublicans top Dems at charity golf game Immigration overhaul on life support in the House GOP governors sign letter supporting Nobel Peace Prize for Trump MORE (R-Ind.) are running in the GOP primary for the right to challenge Donnelly in November.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is the favorite to win the GOP primary in that state, although Austin Petersen, a former Libertarian presidential candidate, is also running for the nomination there.

AFP, which is backed by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch, will spend $20 million ahead of the 2018 primary elections to tout the Republican tax bill and draw attention to those up for reelection who voted against it.

“Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill promised tax reform for years but chose partisan politics over Indiana and Missouri families when they had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide tax relief,” AFP president Tim Phillips said in a statement. “Americans deserve better, which is why AFP is committed to ensuring citizens see the pro-growth benefits of tax reform despite dismissals and deception from ‘no’ votes like Donnelly and McCaskill.”

A spokesperson for Donnelly noted that he voted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and that he has spoken with President Trump about a bill that would create tax incentives for companies that move jobs from overseas to rural American areas.

"Joe tried time and again to work with Republicans to craft a tax bill that overwhelmingly helps working families and encourages companies to bring jobs back from foreign countries, but when Republicans crafted a purely partisan bill that does neither, Joe stood up for Indiana,” said communications director Will Baskin-Gerwitz. “Special interest ads from the out-of-state billionaires who wanted this legislation won't change the fact that the McConnell tax plan will ultimately raise taxes on middle class families to fund new tax breaks for people like the Kochs and the rest of the one percent who'll make millions more in profits."