Billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch said President Obama’s reelection campaign is trying to intimidate people by demanding to see a donor list for their group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
The accusation is the latest volley in an ongoing war of words between the two camps.
Phillip Ellender, president of public affairs for the Koch Companies, sent an open letter to the Obama campaign last week after campaign manager Jim Messina accused the Kochs of bankrolling “Tea Party extremism” and profiting from “jacking up prices at the pump.”
Ellender disputed both counts, and said AFP is funded by “tens of thousands of members and contributors from across the country.”
The Obama campaign challenged the group to prove it by releasing its donor list.
“While President Obama and Messina demand lists of our supporters so they can broaden their attacks to include more private American citizens, AFP protects the identity of donors precisely because of the type of intimidation, smears, and vindictive personal attacks repeatedly launched by the president’s team on those who disagree with their big government agenda,” AFP said in a news release.
A number of news outlets have reported that the Koch brothers were looking to spend upwards of $200 million on various conservative activist groups, including AFP, in an attempt to oust Obama from the White House.
Koch Industries has repeatedly denied that the explicit stated purpose of AFP is to defeat the president, and said the campaign’s attack on the Kochs, as private citizens who disagree with the president’s policies, is anathema to “the way a free society should operate.”
“This attempted intimidation using White House officials is designed to intimidate other Americans from opposing their policies,” AFP said. “So you can bet that Americans for Prosperity will protect our supporters from this kind of intimidation and personal smears by Washington politicians like President Obama.”
While the AFP is focused on fiscally conservative initiatives, the Kochs are significant donors to an array of organizations that are staunchly opposed to the president’s policies.
AFP has already spent millions on commercials in key swing states challenging the administration's support for failed green energy firm Solyndra. The group spent $6 million in battleground states in January, on top of an additional $2.4 million campaign last November.