Charles and David Koch, leaders of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the country, are financing the creation of a new super PAC in preparation for the midterm elections.The Freedom Partners Action Fund, launched by the Koch-backed Freedom Partners, plans to spend more than $15 million in campaign financing leading up to the November 2014 election, part of a greater spending goal of $290 million, Politico and The Daily Beast have reported. The super PAC hasn’t yet announced its support for specific candidates.The brothers are infamous for pouring millions into a network of political nonprofits such as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Generation Opportunity, Concerned Veterans for America and The LIBRE Initiative to further issue-based campaigns that promote free market policies. Federal laws prohibit these tax-exempt nonprofits from campaigning for or against specific candidates, which didn't stop the network from raising $407 million during the 2012 campaign cycle. But this new venture will be a departure from past tactics in that it will be more transparent (donors’ names will be reported to the Federal Election Commission), as well as more candidate-focused. Previously, these groups’ classifications as nonprofits and trade associations have allowed them to keep their donors’ identities secret, though that status also kept them from using more than half of their funds for political activities, thereby curtailing the impact the network could make politically.Marc Short, the president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which will work in association with the Freedom Partners Action Fund, spoke with Politico about the intentions of the new super PAC: “The Freedom Partners Action Fund will support candidates who share our vision of free markets and a free society and oppose candidates who support intrusive government policies that push the American Dream out of reach for the American people,” Short told Politico after a presentation to donors at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point, California.Twice each year, the brothers host donor conferences for members of the trade association, primarily business executives. As Politico described the event: “The gathering is the latest in a series of twice-annual so-called seminars that the Kochs started holding in 2003 to raise cash from wealthy donors after treating them to a series of slickly produced presentations from handpicked politicians, conservative media stars and operatives from Koch-backed groups.”
Jessica Corbett, a former In These Times intern, is a Maine-based staff writer at Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter at @corbett_jessica.