Top Koch network adviser rejects Trump's talk of law and order
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The powerful donor network helmed by billionaires Charles and David Koch is rejecting the law-and-order rhetoric that dominated the Republican National Convention.
 
While GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat O'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms MORE and his prominent surrogate Rudy Giuliani painted America as overrun by crime, terrorists and out-of-control immigration in need of tougher policies, the Koch network is forcefully pushing back.
 
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"I respectfully disagree," said top Koch official Mark Holden when asked what he thought about the crime rhetoric at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
 
"I don't think the data shows that. I think it shows the opposite. I think you'll see the data shows some spikes in some cities on some issues, but I think we're much safer, and that's what the data shows."
 
Holden, who is one of the Koch brothers' most trusted lieutenants, was speaking Saturday afternoon here at the network's summer donor retreat, which is held at a luxury resort built around an artificial lake in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 
 
Gathered at the Broadmoor resort for three days is the most powerful group of political financiers on either side of the political spectrum. 
 
The Koch network, which has a 2016 political and policy cycle budget of around $250 million, is usually described as "conservative" or "right wing." 
 
Certainly much of the network's mission is to reduce the size and scope of government, but the reality is that the Kochs' activities don't fit neatly into left-right categories. 
 
Law and order is a good example of this deviation from easy categorization.
 
Holden's chief passion is criminal justice reform; and it's here that his perspective veers widely away from the vision put forward by Trump. 
 
Unlike Trump, Holden wants to trim down the police state and reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. 
 
He's been working closely with the Obama administration, several governors, and a number of Democratic and Republican members of Congress to achieve that end. 
 
Some on the left are surprised to learn that Holden has a close professional relationship with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
 
"The problem in our country is with using police, and our criminal justice system as well, for activities it was never intended to address," Holden said on Saturday. 
 
"We're not dealing with the issues like poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, drug addiction, joblessness, whatever it might be, school truancy now; we make police do it.
 
"And it creates a lot of conflict," he added. "We make them act as revenue generators, like in Ferguson [Mo.]. What happened there was municipal fines had people fed up and then something happens and it boils over."
 
Holden said he wants to allow police to go back to what their appropriate role is, which is "to protect and serve these communities."
 
"I agree we need law and order. It's just a question of what are we claiming is criminal and what isn't?" he said.
 
Asked how dismayed he was to watch the Republican convention in Cleveland offer a stage for a weeklong revival of 1990s tough-on-crime rhetoric, Holden offered a brief reply:
 
"I didn't watch it," he said.