The conservative U.S. political network led by billionaire Charles Koch has raised over $70 million to spend on political races, an official with the group said on Thursday, with a key goal of stopping former President Donald Trump from clinching the 2024 Republican nomination.

   The influential group, which pushes for tax cuts and less government regulation, is set to dive into the Republican presidential primaries for the first time in its two-decade history.

   Koch ranked among the richest people in the world, compiled his wealth as an executive at his family’s company Koch Industries, a conglomerate involved in fossil fuels, commodities, and other businesses.

   It was unclear what proportion of the $70 million raised by Americans for Prosperity Action, the Koch network super PAC, will go directly to tackling Trump. But the group has made clear that beating him in the primaries is a top priority, as they think he would lose the November 2024 election to President Joe Biden, who beat Trump in 2020.

   “There is a clear sense of urgency around choosing candidates who can win,” an official with the Americans for Prosperity advocacy group said. “Even a significant number of President Trump’s owns supporters are concerned about his electability and open to an alternative.”

   News of the $70 million raised was first reported by the New York Times on Thursday.

   The Koch-backed network of political organizations was founded by Charles and his brother David Koch, who died in 2019. It now includes a larger group of donors. Historically, they have spent millions of dollars backing like-minded Republican candidates for office.

   The Koch network has yet to back a candidate but has joined other big Republican donors in scrambling to try to defeat Trump. The real estate businessman and former reality TV show host has a 20 percentage point lead over his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in a crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls.

   Conservative donors fear Trump, whose divisive and freewheeling governing style alienated more moderate Republicans, will lose again to Biden.

   DeSantis, once seen as the most likely to beat Trump, has not seen a big poll bounce since launching his candidacy in late May and is languishing a distant second.

   The Koch network intends to make an endorsement before the Iowa caucus in early 2024, the AFP official said.

   Responding to a request for comment about the Koch haul, the Trump campaign said that “no amount of dirty money” would stop his movement.

   “We welcome this fight,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said in an email to Reuters.

© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share This