In what could be interpreted as a signal to the Republican field to step up their game, Charles Koch, the billionaire businessman infamous for his hefty contributions to conservative candidates, is not planning to endorse a candidate during the 2016 presidential primary, according to a new interview in USA Today.
"I have no plans to support anybody in the primary now," he said. "If they start saying things we think are beneficial overall and will change the trajectory of the country, then that would be good, but we have to believe also they’ll follow through on it, and by and large, candidates don’t do that.” Koch also said he wouldn’t comment on any specific candidate currently running because when he and his younger brother David do “it’s totally blown out of proportion.”
It’s unclear whether Charles is speaking for his brother, too, when he says he won’t endorse during the primary, but for his part, the elder Koch has expressed disenchantment with the current 2016 field of Republican candidates. During an interview earlier this month on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Koch said he was not impressed “in great measure” by the Republicans running and added that he was “trying to be diplomatic.”
When the Koch brothers expressed admiration for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who they had donated money to in the past, there was a flurry of speculation that he would be their man. But Charles Koch shot down that idea in the same “Morning Joe” sit-down. Walker dropped out of the 2016 race in September amid lackluster poll numbers and fundraising setbacks.
In 2012, the Kochs were solidly behind Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. They hosted pricey fundraisers for the candidate and contributed millions to a pro-Romney super PAC. Even though they won't be endorsing a candidate anytime soon, in this election cycle they hope to raise at least $750 million largely through super PACs to support Republican candidates.
“I expect something in return,” he said on MSNBC. “I would love to have the government stop this corporate welfare. I want the government to require that companies only profit by making other peoples’ lives better.”
“If we didn’t do it, who would be trying to stop this racket? This is a huge racket that’s wrecking the country,” he added.
This article has been updated. A previous version mistakenly stated that Charles Koch "will not be officially backing a candidate during the 2016 presidential primary."