Koch group to challenge Trump on free trade
WASHINGTON — The Koch organization announced Monday it is launching a multi-million dollar campaign against one of President Donald Trump’s signature issues — trade.
It’s the group's most direct challenge to Trump so far but is just the latest in a series of campaigns by the organization where they have split with the current-day Republican Party that has embraced issues that would have been unheard of just two years ago.
The campaign is being waged by three Koch-umbrella organizations, Americans for Prosperity, its main policy group, Freedom Partners, its political organization and LIBRE Initiative, a Hispanic-focused policy group. The multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign will include paid media, activist and grassroots mobilization, lobbying and policy analysis to promote free trade and persuade voters and elected officials of the dangers of tariffs and protectionist economic policies.
It’s unclear how many millions of dollars the organization will spend over the next two years, but it could be impactful as voters, especially Trump supporters, wrestle with emerging trade wars as mid-term elections approach.
Trump last week extended tariffs on steel and aluminum on Mexico, Canada and the European Union and has threatened further tariffs against China, stoking concerns of a trade war.
Freedom Partners Vice President James Davis said that the campaign shows the organizations “long-term commitment to advance common-sense trade policies that will ensure America’s brightest days are ahead, and to directly confront the protectionist ideas that would hold us back.”
The free-market, libertarian-leaning organization, which has traditionally supported Republicans, has shifted its strategy of late. They have spent money attacking Republicans for votes on a government spending bill and thanked Democrats for their support of rolling back parts of Dodd-Frank banking regulations; including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who is a prime target for Republicans in November.