Koch network hits Clinton for the first time

For the first time this election season, the powerful donor network helmed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will run an ad attacking Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Democratic super PAC to hit Trump in battleground states over coronavirus deaths Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE.

But it’s not a sign that the Koch network is changing its mind and getting involved in the presidential campaign.


The network is still staying out, but top officials there see Clinton, the Democratic nominee, as an effective weapon with which to damage Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland.

The Clinton-themed commercial, titled “Josh,” comes as part of a new $1 million TV buy in Ohio opposing Strickland. It links Strickland to Clinton’s controversial statement during the primary campaign that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of business.”

The new ad, which launches alongside another titled “Bad for Ohio,” is designed to damage Strickland among voters associated with the struggling coal industry in the Appalachian region of Ohio.

“Ted Strickland has defended Clinton's comments about putting coal miners out of business — a position that puts him vastly out of step with voters in the Appalachian region of Ohio,” said Koch network spokesman James Davis.

“This ad will run in targeted markets where the coal industry and coal jobs are critical to families and surrounding businesses.”

Responding to the new Koch ads, Strickland campaign spokesman David Bergstein wrote in a statement, “Senator Portman’s rich and powerful friends will tell any lie in order to help Portman stay in power and continue pushing their agenda at the expense of Ohio’s working families.

“The claims in these ads have been repeatedly ruled false by independent fact checkers and experts — but Portman’s allies are desperate to distract from his own record of supporting job killing trade deals, trying to raise the retirement age for seniors and voting for the largest cut to Pell Grants in history.”

Koch network sources have always insisted that if invoking the Democratic nominee in a commercial was an effective strategy to help a Republican House or Senate candidate, that’s exactly what they’d do.

“As we have said before, we are not engaging in the presidential race, however, showing how Ted Strickland has been a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton’s job killing agenda is the most relevant and impactful message in this state,” Davis said.

Instead of engaging in the presidential race, the Koch network plans to spend more than $42 million to help Senate Republican candidates in battleground states, including for Portman in Ohio and Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. The network is also helping Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), who is fighting to succeed retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year Trump signals he will move to replace Ginsburg 'without delay' MORE.

On Tuesday, the Koch network announced a new $1.2 million a new TV and digital buy in Nevada.

The new ad, titled "Abuse," alleges that Heck's Democratic opponent, Catherine Cortez Masto, when she was the state's attorney general, abandoned a vulnerable senior. 

The Koch network described the ad as highlighting “the heartbreaking story of Guadalupe Olvera, a World War II veteran, who saw his life savings disappear under a Nevada guardianship program despite appeals from his family directly to Cortez Masto.”

Zach Hudson, a spokesman for Cortez Masto, responded that “this is yet another misleading ad by the billionaire Koch Brothers whose attacks on Catherine Cortez Masto’s record as Attorney General have been called false by fact checkers.  

“As Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto was a leading figure in the fight against domestic violence and she created a Senior Protection Unit to ensure investigators and prosecutors had the tools to pursue those who abuse, neglect or exploit seniors.”