The secretive political network of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has aired more than 43,900 television ads this election cycle in an attempt to help Republicans take control of the Senate in the upcoming November election.
That amounts to nearly one out of every 10 TV ads in the 2014 battle for the Senate according to a new Center for Public Integrity analysis of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service, covering spending from Jan. 1, 2013, through Aug. 31, 2014.
The total includes the six most active nonprofit groups in the Koch brothers’ coalition: Americans for Prosperity, the American Energy Alliance, Concerned Veterans for America, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Generation Opportunity and the 60 Plus Association.
Their prominence has led to denunciations by Democrats, and praise from Republicans, as they’ve bombarded incumbent lawmakers with negative ads and exulted conservative challengers. No other right-leaning coalition has been as active.
Even the two main big-money committees co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove — American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — have only aired about half as many ads to date as these six Koch-connected groups.
In all, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ flagship political operation, alone has aired more than 27,000 ads in a combined nine battleground states — accounting for about one out of every 16 ads across all Senate races, according to Kantar Media/CMAG.
Koch-connected groups reportedly intend to spend $290 million to help Republicans make gains in Congress this November. Thus far, Kantar Media/CMAG spending estimates indicate the groups have invested at least $14.5 million. This amount is undeniably a conservative estimate, as it includes only TV ad buys — not production costs or expenditures related to radio ads, online ads, direct mail, canvassers or other activities.
These so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups are not required to disclose their funders to federal election regulators, unlike candidates, parties, political action committees and super PACs.
And although election-related advocacy can’t be the “primary purpose” of these groups, they’ve nonetheless established themselves among the nation’s most powerful political forces.
In Alaska, the Koch-backed Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce has accused Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of “standing with insurance companies” by supporting President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
Meanwhile, Generation Opportunity, a Koch group focused on millennials, has argued Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, are “forcing” young adults to “buy health insurance.”
And Democrat Gary Peters has been slammed by Americans for Prosperity for supporting Obamacare, which the group contended was “making things worse” for Michigan families.
The top six Koch-connected nonprofits have hammered Democratic Senate candidates on an ever-expanding geographic field.
Through the end of August, this spending spree has included about 8,600 ads in North Carolina, 6,900 ads in Louisiana, 5,800 ads in Iowa, 4,900 ads in Michigan, 4,700 ads in Arkansas, 4,600 ads in Colorado, 3,600 ads in Alaska and 2,400 ads in Oregon, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of Kantar Media/CMAG data.