Billionaires Charles and David Koch, the libertarian-minded brothers who have become a major force in funding center-right political causes for over a decade, are set to spend nearly $900 million on the coming 2016 election cycle, a report leaked from inside their organization says.
On Monday, the brothers held their annual retreat to relay to their network of deep-pocketed donors what issues and causes they intend to push in the coming elections. During the meeting, the brothers announced their goal was to raise $889 million for their various efforts.
As The New York Times reported, the Republican National Committee and its two congressional campaign organizations spent $657 million during the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. So if the Kochs are able to meet their fundraising goal, the staggering sum will rival the spending expected by either of the two national parties in the coming year.
The three-day retreat that began on Saturday, January 24, was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California, and was attended by up to 300 high-dollar donors whom the brothers have spent a decade recruiting.
The brothers have been strong supporters of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court case that opened the door for an end to limits in political donations. But the pair have also been advocates for amnesty, funding numerous efforts for open borders-styled policies. In fact, only just last summer, the Kochs launched an effort to aid illegal immigrants by offering English classes, health checkups, and courses to help Spanish-speakers earn high school diplomas.
The pair have resisted past attempts at more transparency for their fundraising activities, but this year, they opened up a miniature debate between three would-be GOP candidates for president and live streamed the event over the Internet for various media outlets. The Kochs also sat for interviews with several media outlets.
The three candidates who engaged in the mini debate were Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). During the debate, Senator Cruz celebrated the Koch brothers and slammed former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for attacking them.
“There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking point that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world. Harry Reid says that every week. Let me be very clear: I think that is grotesque and offensive,” Cruz said on Saturday.
“I admire Charles and David Koch,” Cruz added. “They are businessman who have created hundreds of thousands of jobs and they have stood up for free-market principles and endured vilification with equanimity and grace.”
Another possible GOP candidate attended the retreat. Coming off his well-received speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was there on Sunday.
Still, despite their great reputation as top political moneymen, the brothers figured in at only 56th place in a recent list of the biggest political donors in America. In fact, the top 25 donors were all unions, corporations, and liberals.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.