Koch Network Responds to Trump Attack Calling Them 'Globalist,' 'A Total Joke,' 'Highly Overrated'
On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump attacked Charles and David Koch — commonly referred to as "the Koch brothers" — and their political network. The Koch network responded in remarks to PJ Media.
"The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade," the president tweeted. "I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made them richer."
Trump went on to attack the Koch network as "highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn." He suggested that the free market network supports free trade not because of principle but because "they want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker - a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!"
James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network, gave PJ Media a response to Trump's attacks. "We support policies that help all people improve their lives. We look forward to working with anyone to do so," Davis said.
The network has long stood for free markets and limited government, and often finds itself at odds with the Republican Party because of its pure free-market stances. Last year, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) — the largest grassroots arm of the network — opposed the Republican bills to repeal Obamacare, despite the network's strong stance against Obama's signature health care law. Like the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, they opposed the repeal efforts because they fell short of full repeal.
Trump's attacks Tuesday may have been responding to a recent AFP announcement that the network would not support Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in his race against incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
AFP President Tim Phillips announced the network's decision not to back Cramer at a donor summit on Monday in Colorado Springs, Colo., The Hill reported. He cited Cramer's support for the Export-Import Bank, the farm bill, and the $1.3 trillion spending package.
"He's inconsistent across the board on these issues," Phillips said. "We can't support him at this time and we've met with his team, explained this and lobbied them on this."
Heitkamp is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in November, as Trump carried North Dakota by more than 30 points.
The network is backing Republican Senate candidates in Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, and Florida. On Sunday, Charles Koch declared that his network would be more aggressive in going after Republicans who have not adhered to free market principles.
"I regret some of the [lawmakers] we have supported," Koch told a small group of reporters. "We're gonna more directly deal with that and hold people accountable."
The Koch network has long opposed the Export-Import Bank as a symbol of everything wrong with corporate welfare and crony capitalism. In fact, when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came out against the bank in 2016, the Koch group Freedom Partners launched an ad agreeing with him, causing a stir at a Democratic Party debate.
Many lament the influence of money in politics, and the Left loves to demonize the Koch Brothers as a malign influence. However, the network has stood by free market principles, often to the financial loss of Charles Koch and Koch Industries. This makes Trump's insinuations particularly false and dangerous.
The network infamously decided not to support Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, but he won anyway. If Bernie Sanders were correct about billionaires controlling politics, Trump should have lost that primary and the general election. Indeed, during the 2016 primary, Trump attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as a Koch "puppet."
None of this is to say the Koch network is ineffective, however. Groups like AFP helped buoy the Republican takeover of the Senate in 2014.