WASHINGTON — The Koch network has no plans to jump into the GOP presidential primary, despite new reports claiming the billionaire brothers and their powerful political operation are gearing up to go after the real estate mogul.
A report based on Donald Trump-insider Roger Stone on Infowars — which quickly spread in conservative circles after being picked up by Drudge Report — claims the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the donors affiliated with their network met last week and raised $75 million to stop Trump and $25 million to help Marco Rubio. The support for Rubio, however, would be conditional on him winning Florida. If he lost, they would work on getting Mitt Romney into the race.
"This story is completely false," said James Davis, spokesman for the Koch network. "We have not intervened in the presidential primary, and we do not plan to engage. We want the candidates to discuss their positive vision for our nation and how they will reverse our path toward a two-tiered society. Unfortunately, there’s very little of that in the campaign right now.”
The story comes ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries and as the Republican establishment has begun to attack Trump after months of basically ignoring Trump and hoping he'd go away. The American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit, released three new ads last week featuring former Trump University students attacking Trump. Other groups have been discussing spending against Trump as well as he continues to rack up delegates with big wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
Although the Koch network had some discussion on whether they should target Trump during a gathering in California in late January, as BuzzFeed News previously reported from the meeting, there have been no efforts to try to slow down Trump.
The network's donors remain split between Rubio and Ted Cruz. Also, donors have been concerned that spending money against him might backfire by bolstering his populist appeal or by encouraging him to run as an independent.
Top donors affiliated with the Koch network said they received no invitation to a gathering last week and denied any plans to spend on the primary. "We are not getting behind any efforts to influence the presidential primary," one of those donors backing Rubio insisted.
In an email, Stone said he stands "by every word and will be proven correct particularly if/when Rubio loses [Florida]."
"I had a quisling in the room," he said. "Watch the anti-[Trump] TV spending quickly exceed the reported $25 million total. Cockroaches always scramble when you shed light on them."
Tarini Parti is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Tarini Parti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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