A libertarian conservative group funded by billionaire Charles Koch has suggested that the next president should herald a “new chapter” for the United States while at the same time criticizing the Republican Party for nominating “bad candidates,” suggesting an opposition to Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential bid.
“The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles,” said Emily Seidel, chief executive of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), in a memo (pdf) to staff and activists. “And the American people are rejecting them. The Democratic Party increasingly sees this as a political opportunity. And they’re responding with more and more extreme policies—policies that also go against our core American principles.”
As a result, the country is in a “downward spiral,” with both political parties “reinforcing the bad behavior.”
“To write a new chapter for our country, we need to turn the page on the past. So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter,” the Feb. 5th memo states. The memo does not directly mention Trump by name.
As Trump is the only declared Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential race, the AFP memo could be referring to the ex-president as the GOP’s “bad” candidate. However, some analysts view the latest disapproval to be advantageous to Trump.
“Today’s announcement that the ‘Koch Network’ and the now very #woke Americans for Prosperity will oppose Trump helps him,” conservative pollster and media consultant Rick Shaftan said in a tweet on Feb. 5.
The “AFP does nothing but waste money on weak mailers and outsiders as door-knockers. I sure hope they don’t back DeSantis. This announcement is a PLUS for Trump,” Shaftan wrote.
AFP and Trump
AFP, founded by businessmen David and Charles Koch in 2004, has been one of the best-funded political organizations in the United States. AFP Action, a super PAC that supports conservative organizations, spent $79.8 million in the 2022 election cycle, according to data from research group OpenSecrets.
Trump has been critical of the Kochs, branding them “globalist” in 2018.
“The globalist Koch brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Trump stated in a tweet on July 31, 2018.
In January 2021, the AFP said that future support for lawmakers would depend on their actions before and during the Capitol breach on Jan. 6., 2021.
“With that standard in mind, lawmakers’ actions leading up to and during last week’s insurrection will weigh heavy in our evaluation of future support. And we will continue to look for ways to support those policymakers who reject the politics of division and work together to move our country forward,” Seide said in a statement at the time.
With more than $69 billion in assets, Charles Koch is the fourteenth richest man in the world. He had written about his regrets about spending only on conservative causes while his network donated money to several Democratic candidates in 2020.
Trump has been the most targeted lawmaker related to the incident. The former president was also impeached for his alleged role in the Capitol breach, but was later acquitted by the Senate.
Apart from Trump, no other Republican member has put themselves forward as a presidential candidate for the 2024 race. However, a few names have been circulating, such as former vice president Mike Pence and current Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor, is one of the potential GOP candidates. In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Feb. 2, Trump talked about Haley’s bid for the post.
“You know, she said numerous times—I put it up, actually—that ‘I would never run if our president runs. He was a great president,’ et cetera, et cetera. She said that numerous times,” Trump said.
“But she’s a very ambitious person. She just couldn’t stay in her seat. And I said, you know what? Nikki, if you want to run, you go ahead and run.” Trump had earlier nominated Haley to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.