Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action), the super PAC launched by the Koch brothers just in time for the 2018 midterms, has raised $19 million so far in this year’s election cycle and has spent $8.2 million to date in support of Republican congressional candidates.
However, their spending on the midterms has just begun. In the 2019–20 election cycle, the group spent $53.5 million to support Republicans and oppose Democratic candidates.
AFP Action is the electoral arm of Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing political advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers that is now active in 38 states.
Of the funds raised by AFP Action this election cycle, more than half came from just four sources: $6.5 million from Koch Industries; $1.5 million from Ron Cameron, owner of the poultry processor Mountaire Farms; and $1 million each from South Dakota banker T. Sanford Denny and coal company owner Richard Baxter Gilliam.
Halfway through the 2022 primary season, AFP Action has racked up a series of House wins in largely uncompetitive races, as well as a handful of competitive ones.
In South Carolina, AFP Action helped incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace stave off Trump-endorsed candidate Katie Arrington. Previously a Trump supporter, Mace angered the former president and lost any chance of an endorsement from him when she criticized him for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.
AFP Action spent $431,268 on Mace’s campaign—the most it has spent so far on any House candidate. PACs connected to the former president and the MAGA movement didn’t contribute to Arrington’s candidacy, but she did receive funds from Trump supporters across the country.
In Iowa, AFP Action helped Zach Nunn win the June 7 GOP primary to challenge incumbent Rep. Cindy Axne, the state’s only Democratic member of Congress. The super PAC was unsuccessful in its attempt to unseat Axne in 2020 due to her support for the Export-Import Bank, a pet issue of Charles Koch.
This election cycle, AFP Action has already spent $83,624 on social media, door-to-door canvassing, and mailings to members in support of Nunn, a retired Air Force veteran who defeated two other candidates in the primary. As a super PAC, the organization is legally allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money, but is prohibited from communicating or coordinating with the Nunn campaign.
In Georgia, AFP Action spent $353,520 in the GOP primary on behalf of Richard McCormick, who beat theTrump-backed candidate Jake Evans in the June 22 runoff for an open seat in the 6th Congressional District. Unlike the Mace-Arrington race, where Trump was very vocal about his opposition to Mace, he didn’t campaign much for Evans.
On Aug. 2, Koch- and Trump-backed candidates will face off in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District primary. AFP Action’s candidate, incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer, faces a challenge from Trump’s choice, John Gibbs, a Harvard educated African American. In 2021, Meijer was one of nine House Republicans—and the only freshman among them—who voted in favor of impeaching Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
So far, AFP Action has spent $109,153 for social media and canvassing on Meijer’s behalf. PACs associated with Trump have yet to make any expenditures for the Gibbs campaign.
Through its support for Mace in South Carolina and Meijer in Michigan—who both failed the Trump loyalty test—Charles Koch and his network have made it clear that a candidate’s support for the ex-president is not a prerequisite to earning their endorsement.
That said, so far Trump’s and Koch’s choices actually align in at least three Senate races and four House races. In North Carolina, AFP Action spent $297,110 backing Rep. Ted Budd’s Senate primary victory in May over former Gov. Pat McCrory. Both Trump and the far-right Club for Growth also support Budd.
In Wisconsin, Trump and AFP Action are aligned in endorsing incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for reelection. The super PAC has spent close to $1 million on Johnson’s race so far.
While AFP Action sat out the recent GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania, last week it announced its endorsement for Trump’s choice, Mehmet Oz, who narrowly won the May primary after a recount. The Center for Media and Democracy recently reported that the largest institutional investor in Dr. Oz’s online healthcare start-up, Sharecare, is Charles Koch’s private equity fund, Koch Strategic Platforms.
Of the $7.3 million AFP Action has spent so far on midterm races, it invested $2.3 million in door-to-door canvassing. In the 2020 election cycle, the group spent $11.9 million on canvassing—the most a Republican super PAC has ever invested in this type of operation.
So far during this cycle, AFP Action has also spent $2.9 million for digital ad production and placement for all races, along with $913,034 on mail production and mailings, and another $1 million-plus for administrative and staffing expenses.