“How the Koch network rivals the GOP”

Ken Vogel in Politico:

Koch and his brother David Koch have quietly assembled, piece by piece, a privatized political and policy advocacy operation like no other in American history that today includes hundreds of donors and employs 1,200 full-time, year-round staffers in 107 offices nationwide. That’s about 3½ times as many employees as the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had on their main payrolls last month, according to POLITICO’s analysis of tax and campaign documents and interviews with sources familiar with the network. And the staggering sum the network plans to spend in the 2016 election run-up ― $889 million ― is more than double what the RNC spent in the previous presidential cycle.

While rich donors have held considerable sway over the political process in past eras, the Kochs’ network is different. Its mission is in some ways more ambitious than the Republican Party’s ― to fundamentally reshape American public life around a libertarian-infused brand of conservatism ― but it also is encroaching on the GOP’s traditional turf. The Koch network’s data operation is now regarded by many candidates and campaigns as superior to the party’s, and it has invested in efforts to become the leading force on the right for training activists and registering voters. Its biggest group, Americans for Prosperity, plans to place full-time staff in all but eight states by late 2016 and aspires to copy the National Rifle Association’s broad-based membership plan for longevity, according to a POLITICO investigation. It found that the group has even discussed expanding its influence by writing and pushing model state budgets, a technique similar to the one used by the American Legislative Exchange Council to push various state legislative initiatives.

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