IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Koch brothers to GOP candidates: Here's how to earn our support

The Koch primary is on. But if the brothers are going to dole out millions of dollars and they’re auditioning candidates, what are they getting in return?

Two other money-in-politics stories to watch in the 2016 race… 1) The Koch and Adelson Primaries… 2) Jeb Bush in uncharted Super PAC waters… Bank on it: The Super PACs will outspend the campaigns -- at least during the primary season… Obama visits Florida Everglades to mark Earth Day, delivers remarks at 3:55 pm ET… Hillary vague on trade deal… And Walker comes out against LEGAL immigration?


*** Two other money-in-politics stories to watch in the 2016 race: With all the attention on the Clinton Foundation story -- and with its potential conflicts of interest (see our piece on it yesterday) -- there are two other money-in-politics that should be on everyone’s radar screens:

  1. The Koch and Adelson Primaries: On Monday, the NYT reported that the Koch brothers had settled on their preferred 2016 candidate – Scott Walker. Then Koch World pushed back on that story, saying they are still holding auditions for their favorite 2016 candidate. But here is a key question:  If the Koch brothers (and their network of wealthy donors) are going to dole out millions and millions of dollars and they’re currently auditioning candidates, what are they getting in return for that support? Check out this quote from Charles Koch: "We're telling [GOP candidates] that if they want our support, one way to get it is articulating a good message to help Americans get a better understanding and a better appreciation of how certain policies … will benefit them and will benefit all America." What policies are those? Here’s NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell on Scott Walker’s ties to the Koch brothers.And it’s just not the Koch Primary. This coming Saturday, at least two Republican presidential contenders -- Ted Cruz and Rick Perry -- are going to Las Vegas to speak at the Sheldon Adelson-backed Republican Jewish Coalition confab. In the 2012 cycle, Adelson and his wife donated nearly $100 million to GOP outside groups, including Super PACs supporting Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
  2. Jeb Bush in unchartered Super PAC waters: On Tuesday, the AP reported that Jeb Bush plans to outsource his TV ads, direct mail, and data gathering to his Super PAC, Right to Rise. What’s noteworthy here is that, according to campaign-finance laws, there is supposed to be NO coordination between a candidate and a Super PAC. But Jeb Bush is exploiting a loophole -- and potentially violating at least the SPIRIT of these laws -- because he’s not officially a presidential candidate. So he’s raising money for this Super PAC and putting his key personnel there. The moment he declares his candidacy (in June?), he’ll stop his role with the Super PAC. But by then, it will have all the money (through unlimited donations) and infrastructure it needs.

*** Bank on it: The Super PACs will outspend the campaigns -- at least during the primary season: When it comes to Jeb Bush’s Super PAC, maybe the biggest consequence of it is that, in 2016, we’re going to see the Super PACs outspend the actual campaigns, at least during the primary season. As the New York Times’ Nick Confessore points out, the Romney campaign spent about $76 million in the 2012 primary season, while the main pro-Romney Super PAC spent $49 million. As Confessore mused, it’s easy to see how that ratio shifts for Jeb Bush -- and perhaps the other GOP candidates as well.

*** Obama visits Florida Everglades to mark Earth Day: USA Today: “President Obama spends Earth Day on Wednesday in the Florida Everglades, promoting his climate change policies. After touring Everglades National Park in the afternoon, Obama will speak ‘on the threat that climate change poses to our economy and to the world,’ says the White House schedule. The president will stress his efforts to reduce carbon emissions, while criticizing congressional Republicans for opposing his environmental policies.” Obama delivers his remarks at 3:55 pm ET.

*** Hillary vague on trade deal: Turning back to the 2016 race, Hillary Clinton was incredibly vague when talking about the political fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. "Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security," she said in New Hampshire yesterday. "And we need to do our part to make sure we have the capacity and the skills to be competitive." As we’ve written before, this trade deal -- as well as a battle over “fast-track” trade authority for President Obama -- puts Hillary in a tough spot. Does she back Obama and her husband Bill? Or does she side with organized labor, as well as the likes of Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, who have come out against it? Other questions: Will Hillary be able to look credible if she opposes the TPP? Would it add to a perception she'll say or do anything? Could the better position for her actually be supporting it, showing that she's willing to buck her base (especially since Obama is for it)? Also on the trade-deal front, here’s a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz supporting giving Obama fast-track authority. 

*** Walker comes out against LEGAL immigration? Don’t miss this piece by MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s newfound skepticism of legal immigration levels is a potential turning point in the still nascent presidential race, potentially dragging the Republican Party further to the right than Mitt Romney’s hardline immigration platform in 2012. ‘In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying – the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages,’ Walker said Monday in an interview with Glenn Beck. ‘It is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today – what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.’” A Walker spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein: "Gov. Walker supports American workers' wages and the U.S. economy and thinks both should be considered when crafting a policy for legal immigration. He strongly supports legal immigration, and like many Americans, believes that our economic situation should be considered instead of arbitrary caps on the amount of immigrants that can enter."

OBAMA AGENDA: The latest in Yemen

The New York Times: "Warplanes from a Saudi-led military coalition conducted airstrikes in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz on Wednesday, hours after Saudi officials had announced they were halting their nearly monthlong bombing campaign against the Houthi rebel movement. The warplanes bombed Houthi positions during heavy clashes in Taiz on Wednesday morning, according to a local official in the city. The new airstrikes, combined with reports of continued fighting in other parts of the country, including the southern port city of Aden, dampened hopes that the Saudi announcement would quickly result in a broader cease-fire."

Obama is headed to Florida - the home state of two GOP presidential hopefuls - to talk climate change.

DEA chief Michele Leonhart is stepping down amid disagreements with the Obama administration and criticism of her handling of a scandal.

The Baltimore Sun has the latest on the DOJ probe of Freddie Gray's death.

CONGRESS: The deal that paved the way for Loretta Lynch’s nomination

NBC's Frank Thorp reports on the deal that paved the way for a vote on Loretta Lynch's nomination this week.

National Journal first reported last night that Mitch McConnell is introducing a bill to reauthorize the surveillance authority of the Patriot Act until 2020.

Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has an AR-15 in his office, exempt from D.C. law because of his status as a congressman, reports The Washington Post.

Kate Snow writes about Rep. Mike Honda's 8-year-old granddaughter, who is transgender.

OFF TO THE RACES: The Koch Brothers’ Five Favorites

USA Today reports that the Koch brothers have identified five candidates that they could consider backing: Walker, Bush, Cruz, Paul and Rubio.

Writes the Des Moines Register: "Hot-button issues such as clean power, water quality regulations and renewable fuels are expected to get a bigger stage in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, as environmental activists put more pressure on presidential contenders to address controversial issues such as climate change."

CLINTON: From the Associated Press, on Bill Clinton's role: "Aides say the ex-president will stay behind the scenes initially and that Hillary Clinton's focus on her parents and grandchild allow her to fill in other aspects of her biography. Invoking Bill Clinton, who has high approval ratings, also can bring up positives from his administration, such as a strong economy, but at the risk of revisiting the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment drama."

The Washington Post writes about how Clinton's trade comments are kicking off a public intra-party trade war.

The Huffington Post reports that top campaign officials have a goal of $100 million for the Democratic primary race.

POLITICO describes her as "unrunning" for president.

Bloomberg writes that the findings of the House Benghazi probe likely won't be released until next year.

CRUZ: The ew York Times does a deep dive into Cruz’s career as a college debater.

He and Paul Ryan co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed in favor of fast-track authority.

RUBIO: He's been reaching out to gay Republicans.

TRUMP: He's heading back to New Hampshire on Monday.

WALKER: Leigh Ann Caldwell reports on Walker's long history with the Koch brothers.

He's suggesting limiting legal immigration.

The Journal Sentinel: "Taking action as gun violence captures particular attention across the state and especially in Milwaukee, the state Senate on Tuesday approved a repeal of the state's two-day waiting period for handgun purchases, sending the bill to the Assembly on a voice vote."

Additional reporting by Carrie Dann