Money talks

Charles Koch, the right-wing billionaire who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to radicalize the Republican party, now says he regrets his "partisanship." In advance of a new book to be released on Tuesday, Koch is recasting himself as a pragmatic problem-solver seeking to bring people together. He participated in an extensive interview with the Wall Street Journal as part of the rebranding process:

Mr. Koch said he has since come to regret his partisanship, which he says badly deepened divisions. “Boy, did we screw up!” he writes in his new book. “What a mess!”

Mr. Koch is now trying to work together with Democrats and liberals on issues such as immigration, criminal-justice reform and limiting U.S. intervention abroad, where he thinks common ground can be found.

This spirit of cooperation, however, is not reflected in his political giving. During the 2020 election, the Koch Industries PAC contributed $1.37 million to Republicans and $46,000 to Democrats. Koch Industries PAC is more heavily partisan than it was in 2010 when it donated $1.18 million to Republicans and $112,000 to Democrats. 

But perhaps the results of the 2020 election have changed Koch's approach? In an email to the Wall Street Journal, he congratulated Biden and Harris on their victory.

I congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory. I look forward to finding ways to work with them to break down the barriers holding people back, whether in the economy, criminal justice, immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic, or anywhere else. At the same time, I hope we all use this post-election period to find a better way forward. Because of partisanship, we’ve come to expect too much of politics and too little of ourselves and one another.

Again, no. Since the election, an organization funded by Koch, Americans for Prosperity Action, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting the campaign of Senator David Perdue (R-GA), who will face voters again on January 5 in a run-off election against challenger Jon Ossoff. Perdue's election would secure Republican control of the Senate, severely curtailing the ability of Biden to tackle the country's problems. 

Americans for Prosperity Action has reported spending $440,000 in support of Perdue's candidacy. Koch is supporting Perdue even as the Senator publicly fuels conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from Trump.

Perdue's radical attack on democracy

Koch is funneling money to Perdue as Perdue works in concert with Trump to attack the democratic process. On November 9, the day before Americans for Prosperity Action distributed the bulk of its money, Perdue issued a statement calling on Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, to resign. 

The statement, which Perdue issued jointly with Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), calls Raffensperger's management of the election an "embarrassment" that lacked "transparency and uniformity." 

There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State. The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable. Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.

Perdue and Loeffler did not provide any evidence that the election in Georgia was not "honest." 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that "the president and his top allies pressured the two Republican senators to take this step, lest he tweet a negative word about them and risk divorcing them from his base ahead of the consequential runoff." The Perdue campaign denied there was any coordination with Trump or his campaign on the statement. 

Regardless, it is clear that Perdue's strategy is to "cling tightly to the lame-duck President, Donald Trump, and his baseless claims of voter fraud, with the hope of fuelling enough outrage among Georgia’s many Trump fans to drive turnout in January." This is the strategy that Koch is financing while claiming to have rejected partisan politics. 

Perdue's new strategy

Koch is eager to put distance between himself and Trump. But he's putting his money behind Perdue, who voted with Trump 95% of the time over the last four years. Despite his voting record, Perdue has attempted to craft a more moderate profile to attract swing voters. That's over now. 

After keeping his distance before the general election, Perdue has embraced a partnership with Loeffler and formed a joint fundraising committee. In the closing days of the campaign, Loeffler has accepted an endorsement from Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. Loeffler also participated in an interview with a fringe media figure, Jack Posobiec, with ties to white supremacists

Perdue acknowledges that he has stopped trying to convince voters to support him. "What we have to do is not persuade people, what we have to do is get the vote out," Perdue said. He urged people to turn out and vote for him so he can fight "radical leftists." 

Dark money and the Peach State

Koch isn't the only one pouring money to support Perdue in Georgia. But the funding source of one of the largest spenders for Perdue and Loeffler is cloaked in secrecy. 

The National Victory Action Fund was formed on October 1 to support Republicans running for the Senate. Since election day, the National Victory Action Fund has spent $1.95 million supporting Loeffler and Perdue. According to those disclosures, the cash went toward email communications, text messaging, and online advertising.

Who is funding the National Victory Action Fund? We don't know. Thus far, the PAC has only filed one financial disclosure on the sources of its funding, which was filed on October 22. That filing only listed $2,960.00 in contributions and $140 in spending. The PAC, which has no website, will not be required to further disclose its funding sources until December 3. 

The filing shows a gaping hole in the nation's campaign finance system. It's possible to form a political action committee a couple of weeks before an election day, spend millions to influence federal elections, and then not disclose the source of the funds until much later.

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