Presidential races

Koch officials skeptical of Trump’s alleged meeting invite

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that he turned down a meeting with billionaires Charles and David Koch, but top Koch network officials immediately challenged Trump’s claim.
“You’ll have to ask the Trump campaign where they get their information from,” said Koch network spokesman James Davis, responding to questions over whether the Republican presidential nominee was telling the truth in his tweet.
“We remain focused on the Senate,” he said.
{mosads}Following reports that the Koch network rejected outreach from Trump allies — both Trump and the Kochs were in Colorado Springs on Friday — the GOP presidential nominee tweeted on Saturday that it was actually he who rejected the meeting. 
“I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch,” Trump said. “Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!”
Another top Koch network official, Mark Holden, smiled when a reporter read out the Trump tweet during a meeting at the luxury Broadmoor resort here in Colorado Springs, where the Koch donor network is holding its summer gathering.
Holden said he wasn’t aware of there being any contact between the Koch and Trump camps that might support Trump’s claim that the Kochs invited him to a meeting.
The Koch network, which comprises some 700 donors who contribute at least $100,000 annually, has a 2016 political and policy cycle budget of about $250 million. A further $500 million is likely to be spent on free market advocacy through higher education and other initiatives.
But none of that money will be used to help Trump, because the GOP nominee doesn’t align with the Koch network’s values or policy positions.
Holden said the network wouldn’t do anything to oppose Trump, and may run negative contrast advertising on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but only in the context of helping Republican senators win their races in swing states.
The Koch network plans to focus its political spending on preserving Republican control of the Senate, and the network is intervening in a limited number of House races.
The network has already spent more than $21 million on TV and digital advertising in Senate races and has reservations for at least $21 million more. 
That $42 million doesn’t include the tens of millions more the network will be spending on data and grassroots organizing through groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has offices in 38 states.
At least a dozen elected officials will be attending the Koch donor retreat here this weekend. It’s an opportunity to get an audience with some of the most powerful donors in conservative politics.
The officials scheduled to attend include House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Govs. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) and Matt Bevin (R-Ky.).
Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton John Cornyn Mike Lee Paul Ryan Tim Scott

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