Charles and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has announced a seven-figure campaign to get Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, confirmed to the bench. While this and the effort to get Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch seated on the nation’s highest court have received much attention, the Kochs’ campaign to influence state attorneys general and state courts has largely flown under the radar.
A careful search of state campaign finance databases and Koch Political Action Committee (KochPAC) filings reveal that the Koch network has identified and pumped money into candidates for state attorney general, state Supreme Court, and state Court of Appeals.
In the 2016 election cycle, the Kochs backed at least three candidates for attorney general in Missouri, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and four candidates for state Supreme Court in Arkansas and Texas. Of these, only John Rafferty lost his bid for attorney general in Pennsylvania.
Koch Attorneys General
Team Koch has demonstrated a strong commitment to electing Republican attorneys general, mainly through its funding of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). Koch Industries has given $250,000 to support its favored AG candidates so far this year, in addition to the $215,000 in 2017.
The Kochs are top-tier donors to RAGA, which gives them access to Republican AGs and their staff, as well as the ability to post on “a secret online bulletin board called the ‘Briefing Room’ that’s allowing big donors to help shape legal policy,” Maplight and The Intercept reported earlier this year.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel have all also received direct Koch cash contributions for their campaigns. Direct Koch contributions to attorney general and judicial candidates are listed below.
Of these incumbents, only Hunter is not party to the lawsuit led by Paxton and Schimel seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, one of the Kochs’ major policy goals remaining following Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy that will result in the Kochs saving as much as $1.4 billion in income taxes a year.
The Kochs have funded judicial campaigns in two states in which they have large footprints: Georgia and Texas.
In Georgia, the Kochs employ over 8,300 people at Flint Hills Resources, Georgia-Pacific, Guardian, INVISTA, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, and Koch Industries. In Texas, the billionaires have over 7,800 employees at Flint Hills Resources, Georgia-Pacific, Guardian, INVISTA, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, Koch Chemical Technology Group, Koch Industries, Koch Minerals, Koch Supply & Trading, Matador Cattle Company, and Molex.
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Nels Peterson and State Court of Appeals Justice Stephen Dillard have both received Koch Industries contributions to their respective campaigns.
In Texas, the Kochs have given to State Supreme Court Justices Jeff Brown and Jimmy Blacklock’s campaigns. The Kochs also gave to Justice Tom Willet, but he was confirmed to the 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals late last year.
Below are the Koch candidates for law enforcement and the courts in 2018. Stay tuned to ExposedByCMD for more on the Kochs’ electoral activities and the “Koch Candidates 2018” page on SourceWatch for regular updates between now and the November election.
State Attorney General
- Attorney General Steve Marshall (R): $5,000 contributed by Koch Industries.
- Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R): $2,700 contributed by KochPAC.
- Attorney General Chris Carr (R): $5,000 contributed by Koch Industries.
- Attorney General Mike Hunter (R): $5,000 contributed by KochPAC.
- Attorney General Alan Wilson (R): $3,500 contributed by Koch Industries.
- Attorney General Ken Paxton (R): $20,000 contributed by KochPAC.
- Attorney General Brad Schimel (R): $10,000 contributed by KochPAC.
State Supreme Court
- Justice Nels Peterson: $2,500 contributed by KochPAC.
- Justice Jeff Brown: $3,000 contributed by KochPAC.
- Justice Tom Willett: $3,000 contributed by KochPAC. Willet now serves on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Justice Jimmy Blacklock (R): $3,000 contributed by KochPAC.
State Court of Appeals
- Justice Stephen Dillard: $1,000 contributed by Koch Industries.
My question(s) would be about the significance of their contributions to amounts raised, as well as if they influenced others to donate including PACS?
Years ago, big money started buying state elections of judicial candidates after buying state legislators and executives.
I think Trump financed his campaign with a few billionaires contributing and some of his own money.
This freed the Kochs and others to invest more in the US Congress and in state and local elections.
In NC the new laws that deleted the 2018 judicial primary, constitution amendment to transfer judicial appointments to a group that is nominated by the (Republican) legislature and to take judicial appointments away from the (Democrat) governor. Changing election rules in July 2018 before the November election for NC Supreme Court race to exclude one particular judicial candidate. Stay tuned for more.