David Zalubowski/Associated Press
- The donor network created by Charles Koch seeks to boost its role in the GOP presidential primaries.
- A newly-released Americans for Prosperity memo called for members to “turn the page on the past.”
- The message is seen as a veiled swipe at Trump, who is running for the GOP nomination in 2024.
The network of donors created by the conservative billionaire Charles Koch is ramping up efforts to get involved in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, with a mission to “turn the page on the past” in a veiled swipe at former President Donald Trump.
The Koch network, which encompasses a wide swath of wealthy conservatives across the country, has been deeply influential in Republican circles for over a decade, and in 2020 spent roughly $500 million backing GOP candidates and right-leaning policies. However, the network has largely stayed out of presidential primaries after identifying five approved candidates in 2015, all of whom ultimately fell to Trump the next year.
In a memo to Americans for Prosperity staffers and activists, chief executive Emily Seidel doesn’t specifically mention Trump by name, but the tone of the email clearly calls for new blood in the party.
“The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles,” the memo read. “And the American people are rejecting them.”
“The Democratic Party increasingly sees this as a political opportunity,” the memo continued to say, “And they’re responding with more and more extreme policies – policies that also go against our core American principles.”
While the Koch network disagreed with Trump on his implementation of trade tariffs during his White House tenure, it did work with the administration on criminal justice reform efforts.
And although Trump has been the dominant Republican fundraiser in recent years, the message from Seidel could be the signal that some conservative donors have been waiting for as they consider alternatives to the former president in the 2024 race.
Former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina is expected to enter the race on February 15, but at the moment, Trump remains the only major declared candidate seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
Americans for Prosperity in the memo emphasized that it would continue to build on its work from the 2022 midterms.
“If we want to elect better people, we need better candidates. And if we want better candidates, we’ve got to get involved in elections earlier and in more primaries,” the memo read. “Last year, AFP and AFP Action engaged in 22 primaries at the federal level and nearly 200 more in the states. This was more than in any previous year.”
Seidel then argued that the “loudest voice” in the party generally established the tone for the election, stating that “in a presidential year, that’s the presidential candidate.”
“To write a new chapter for our country, we need to turn the page on the past,” the memo read. “So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter. The American people have shown that they’re ready to move on, and so AFP will help them do that.”
“AFP Action is prepared to support a candidate in the Republican presidential primary who can lead our country forward, and who can win,” the memo added.