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Koch-backed Group Vows To Hold GOP’s Feet To The Fire

Americans for Prosperity, which spent more than $100 million in the 2014 election in efforts to help elect Republicans, is vowing to hold Republicans accountable now that they have control of both bodies of Congress.

The group, financed largely by conservative entrepreneurs Charles and David Koch, promised Thursday at the National Press Club to expand its reach and influence in 2015 by pushing its core legislative policies of repealing the Affordable Care Act, rolling back energy regulations, expanding domestic energy production, reducing taxes and reining in government spending, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - all efforts that would financially benefit the Koch brothers’ sprawling business entities.

President of AFP, Tim Phillips, said Republican success in the midterm election does not mean that the party has a mandate, but that it provides “a new opportunity” to set the country in the right direction. Now that the GOP has the power, Philips said they have to prove that they can be successful and productive legislators.

“They’ve been given a second chance,” Phillips said, referring to the first part of the 2000s when Republicans controlled Congress and the presidency but when government spending ballooned. “We’re going to hold them accountable.”

Phillips would not go so far as to say that the group would recruit primary challengers against incumbents if they don’t stay in line. That’s a controversial tactic used by the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, which has won few friends in Republican circles. Even though AFP is heavily involved in electoral politics, backing primary challengers has not been their strategy. They hvae largely stayed out of primary battles and supported Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act (which is all of them) and promoted reduced government spending.

“Our top priority in 2015 is to ensure politicians are held accountable to those promises,” Phillips said.

That includes not only lobbying members of Congress from Washington but also activating its grassroots campaign in 34 states to keep pressure on Republican lawmakers who now control the legislative agenda in Washington.

Phillips would not discuss how much he hopes to disperse from his war chest, but he said it would be “significant.”

- Leigh Ann Caldwell