Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill

Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill
© Greg Nash

The fiscally conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity (AFP) on Thursday will launch a $4 million television and digital ad campaign hitting Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D-Ind.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) for voting against the GOP’s tax overhaul.

Donnelly and McCaskill are both up for reelection in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: 'Unacceptable' that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it's never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE won easily in 2016. Trump carried Missouri by nearly 20 points and won Indiana by about 19.


Republicans had been hopeful that a few red-state Democrats in the Senate would join them in supporting the tax overhaul, which was passed into law in December, but none did.

At the time, the tax bill was enormously unpopular. Recent polling, however, has shown voters warming to the law. Republicans are vowing to sell the tax overhaul to the public and run on the issue ahead of what is expected to be a difficult midterm election cycle for the GOP in 2018.

The AFP ads claim that tax reform has led to booming economies in Missouri and Indiana but that McCaskill and Donnelly put partisan politics over helping their constituents by voting against it.

“Tax reform is sweeping across Indiana,” the ad targeting Donnelly states. “Small businesses are growing. Paychecks are going up. Families are saving more for what matters. Hoosier pride is back. Sen. Joe Donnelly said he'd support tax cuts for hardworking Hoosiers, but when he had the chance he said 'no,' voting against tax cuts for you, standing with [Senate Majority Leader Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] and [House Minority Leader] Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBudowsky: Pelosi can break shutdown stalemate GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight Poll shows 25 percent view McConnell favorably, lowest among leaders in survey MORE [D-Calif.] instead of us. Tell Sen. Donnelly to put Hoosier jobs first.”

The ad targeting McCaskill features an almost identical statement.

Reps. Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaHouse passes year-end tax package Indiana New Members 2019 Braun knocks off Donnelly in Indiana MORE (R-Ind.) and Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserYoder, Messer land on K Street House GOP to force members to give up leadership positions if running for higher office Indiana New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ind.) are running in the GOP primary for the right to challenge Donnelly in November.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is the favorite to win the GOP primary in that state, although Austin Petersen, a former Libertarian presidential candidate, is also running for the nomination there.

AFP, which is backed by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch, will spend $20 million ahead of the 2018 primary elections to tout the Republican tax bill and draw attention to those up for reelection who voted against it.

“Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill promised tax reform for years but chose partisan politics over Indiana and Missouri families when they had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide tax relief,” AFP president Tim Phillips said in a statement. “Americans deserve better, which is why AFP is committed to ensuring citizens see the pro-growth benefits of tax reform despite dismissals and deception from ‘no’ votes like Donnelly and McCaskill.”

A spokesperson for Donnelly noted that he voted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and that he has spoken with President Trump about a bill that would create tax incentives for companies that move jobs from overseas to rural American areas.

"Joe tried time and again to work with Republicans to craft a tax bill that overwhelmingly helps working families and encourages companies to bring jobs back from foreign countries, but when Republicans crafted a purely partisan bill that does neither, Joe stood up for Indiana,” said communications director Will Baskin-Gerwitz. “Special interest ads from the out-of-state billionaires who wanted this legislation won't change the fact that the McConnell tax plan will ultimately raise taxes on middle class families to fund new tax breaks for people like the Kochs and the rest of the one percent who'll make millions more in profits."