Koch Network's LIBRE Initiative Running Ads Praising Democrats On Immigration The Latino outreach arm of the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers' network is paying for ads praising some Democrats, as well as Republicans, who have worked on immigration compromises.
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Breaking With Trump's GOP, Koch Brothers Praise Democrats On Immigration

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Breaking With Trump's GOP, Koch Brothers Praise Democrats On Immigration

Breaking With Trump's GOP, Koch Brothers Praise Democrats On Immigration

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Koch brothers are billionaire libertarians who have spent massive amounts of money to support Republican candidates and causes over the years, pushing a pro-business, small-government agenda.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now the Koch brothers are making a push to praise some Democrats in this midterm year, as well. It's part of their support of a legislative solution for DREAMers. These are immigrants to this country who arrived as children illegally.

GREENE: Let's bring in NPR political reporter Tim Mak with some reporting he's done on this. Hi, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

GREENE: OK. So what are the Koch brothers up to? What is their political network doing right now?

MAK: So I think you put your finger on it earlier. The Koch brothers are libertarians. They're not conservatives. So they clash with the president in a number of ways, especially the direction of the Republican Party. So where the president wants tariffs, they want free trade. Where the president wants a hard line on immigration, they want a fix for dreamers. Where the president has decided to sign a spending bill that would increase the deficit, the Koch brothers have really opposed that from the start. So what are they doing now? The Hispanic outreach arm of the Koch network is doing something they've never done before, and that is to spend money praising Democrats at the federal level who they've worked with on a solution, on a legislative solution, for these DREAMers.

GREENE: Who exactly are they praising? Which Democrats have they chosen to single-out here?

MAK: So they're going to send out about more than a hundred-thousand mailers to various people in the districts of five Democrats. We've got Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. We've got Democratic Congressmen Pete Aguilar and Raul Ruiz of California and Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. Now, it's notable that one of these folks is the chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm in a midterm year. We also want to note that there are nine Republican lawmakers. So they're not going all in with Democrats. It's just notable that this is one of the first times they're actually spending money to praise Democrats.

GREENE: I mean, being someone who's covered the Koch brothers and followed their influence over the years, I mean they're so known for Republican loyalty, right? I mean, even though you said they're not necessarily conservative, you have Democrats who will bring them up all the time as some evil force. I mean, is this really a moment where we can say, wow, the Trump era has really changed the political landscape?

MAK: The Republican Party really does appear to be moving further away, not closer, to the philosophies that the Koch brothers have espoused for a really long time. And I think one thing that's changing is not what the Koch brothers believe. That's remained pretty consistent. But they're changing their tactics, right, to reflect the nature of the Republican Party and where it's going. So they're trying to emphasize the bipartisan efforts they're engaging in that's consistent with their philosophy. So they're working on things like a second chance for felons as part of their efforts on criminal justice reform. They're working on this immigration reform issue. They're working on legislation that would let terminally ill patients try experimental medicines and medical procedures. Still, we have to conclude that they have a lot still in common with the Republican Party. They're still going to be spending big in the midterms to help Republicans keep Congress. That's a priority for them. They're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. And, let's not forget, they were a big fan of the tax cuts that were supported exclusively by Republicans in the House and Senate, and they're going to be using that as a central message in their midterm push over the next six months.

GREENE: Interesting background on the Koch brothers. NPR's Tim Mak. Thanks a lot.

MAK: Thank you.

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