February 11, 2011- In an expansion of their political footprint, the billionaire Koch brothers plan to contribute and steer a total of $88 million to conservative causes during the 2012 election cycle, according to sources, funding a new voter micro-targeting initiative, grassroots organizing efforts and television advertising campaigns.
In fact, as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meets this week in Washington and conservatives assess the state of their movement, the Kochs’ network of non-profit groups, once centered around sleepy free-enterprise think tanks, seems to some to be emerging as a more ideological counterweight to the independent Republican political machine conceived by Bush-era GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie before the 2010 midterm elections.
The aggressive embrace of political activism by the Koch brothers, Charles and David, has cheered fiscal conservatives, who hope they will reorient the conservative political apparatus around free-market, small government principles and candidates, and away from the electability-over-principles approach they see Rove and Gillespie as embodying.
But not everyone on the right is happy about the brothers’ increasing political profile. Some conservatives complain that the political operatives who work for the Kochs don’t play well with others in the movement and worry that their efforts to steer big money to favored groups undermines other, potentially valuable conservative efforts