Koch network plans major expansion
© Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

The conservative network led by billionaires Charles and David Koch plans to dramatically expand its long-term targeting of veterans, young people and Hispanics. 

Koch organizations focused on these three groups will move into 35 states by the end of January, according to network spokesman James Davis. 

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Currently, the three Koch groups — Concerned Veterans for America, Generation Opportunity, and the Libre Initiative — have offices in 16, four and 10 states respectively, according to Davis. 

To execute the expansion, which will begin after the elections, the Kochs will exploit the fact that their biggest grassroots group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), is already in 35 states. The other groups will keep their names and move into AFP offices initially. 

In so doing, the network could add to its 1,200 field staff, but Davis said it’s too early to estimate cost, staff or office changes.

The upshot: Expect to see the influence of the Koch network grow heading into the 2018 midterm elections. 

Nothing will change for the Kochs, however, between now and Election Day. They won’t spend a penny on the presidential race, given their policy disagreements with GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE, though their Senate turnout efforts may help the top of the ticket. The largest chunk of their $250 million budget is going toward preserving Republican majorities in Congress. 

As The Hill reported earlier this week, the Kochs are shifting their focus away from television advertising and toward the biggest ground campaign the group has ever executed, to help Republicans in eight battleground states. 

They’re knocking on doors, making phone calls and spending millions of dollars on direct mail to target 5 million persuadable voters in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

Beyond any one political cycle, the network has a long-term goal: To create long-term infrastructure across the nation and to fundamentally transform the country’s politics. 

Over time, the Koch network’s ambition is to cut government spending and regulations, slash taxes, and dramatically reduce the size of government at all levels. 

The Kochs oppose nearly every policy embraced by President Obama — with the notable exception of criminal justice reform, where they have formed an unexpected partnership with the administration. And while many Republicans have given up on repealing ObamaCare, the network is still obsessed with overturning the president’s signature law. 

To achieve these goals, the Koch network is engaging with voters that overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party. 

They’re spending millions of dollars on outreach to young people and Hispanics, and investing in poverty programs in the hopes of carrying their message to African-Americans. 

Following these operational changes, Concerned Veterans for America and Libre will be in 36 states because they are the only two Koch groups currently in New Mexico. AFP, and Generation Opportunity might end up joining them in New Mexico, Davis said. 

“We’re looking ahead to 2017,” he added. “And these changes will put us in a position to lead on policy when, no matter what the outcome of the election, the country will be looking for leadership.”