With United States mid-term elections approaching, a lot of attention is being devoted to the public feud between Trump and the billionaire Koch brothers, the traditional mega-donors for Republicans. Tradition is being defied at nearly every corner, these days, though—including where it concerns the Koch brothers’ allies.
Now the billionaire brothers are openly supporting Democrats who have shown favor for their agenda.
In late July, Koch network declined to endorse Republican Kevin Cramer who was challenging democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp for her Senate seat in North Dakota.
Trump was livid and played it out on Twitter, saying the Koch network had become a "total joke" and insisting that he "never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas."
The month before, the Koch brothers said they were funding a multi-million dollar campaign against Trump's trade tariffs, with the help of three cashed-up political groups (Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE) that they back. It’s a massive advertising, lobbying and grassroots campaign pushing the benefits of free trade.
They’re ready and willing to spend big on this. They’ve already pledged some $400 million for campaign contributions and policy initiatives ahead of the midterms. Back in 2016, they spent well under half of that. Back then, the Koch brothers were rather fond of Trump and his tax cuts and deregulation push. But as the owners of the second largest privately held company in the U.S.—Koch Industries—tariffs hurt. Related: Germany Could Use $55B Budget Surplus To Cut Taxes
They were also fond, just last year, of ‘Trumpcare’, offering Republicans bounties in campaign financing if they voted for the plan.
But it was the trade war that started this relationship off on the wrong path, and it was likely retaliation for that which prompted the Koch brothers in May to criticize Trump’s immigration policy that had seen thousands of children separated from their parents at the border.
Even on-again-off-again Trump ally Steve Bannon is taking up arms against the Koch brothers now, warning Republican candidates not to take money from the network because it was “going to be toxic”, CNBC reported.
“If you take money from people who are against the president and are looking to put a knife in the back of the president, you are going to pay,” Bannon said without elaborating on what the punishment would look like.
Bannon, often called the architect of Donald Trump's presidential victory, is currently in cruising the Europe where he is trying to boost far-right sentiment with a new foundation that plans to hand out resources to Euroskeptics and anti-EU populists. Bannon is setting up a Brussels-based non-profit NGO called "The Movement", which hopes to take on billionaire George Soros and other liberal donors and establishments.
The Koch brothers aren’t batting an eye at Trump’s tweets, though.
On Friday, Freedom Partners urged the White House to give up its plans next week to impose another round of tariffs on China—this time to the tune of $200 billion.
"The costs of this trade war are mounting on our consumers and businesses," said Freedom Partners Executive Vice President Nathan Nascimento, as reported by the Washington Examiner. "Just ask the farmers who are losing profits and market share. Washington imposes tariffs with one hand, while offering government aid with the other."
"Yet the administration appears already committed to inflict even more pain, before the public debate has concluded," he added. "It’s like a judge declaring a guilty verdict in the middle of a trial."
By David Craggen for Safehaven.com
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