Behind the curtain of the Koch operations: local campaign disclosures provide window on Koch campaigns (if you know where to look)

Print More

Charles and David Koch spent $960 million in the 2016 elections, mostly on campaigns attacking progressive candidates and causes.  But because much of that money flows through non-profits and PACs, their fingerprints are often hard to identify and their playbook is even harder to pin down.

But thanks to some of the country’s most progressive campaign disclosure laws, their local Americans for Prosperity chapter disclosed their ads, scripts and spendings in recent local elections – if you know where to find it.

Since ProgressNow New Mexico started in 2011 we’ve been tracking the influence of corporate-backed right-wing astroturf organizations who come into our state trying to influence our elections.

The Koch Brothers and their affiliated organizations – Americans for Prosperity and the LIBRE Initiative – are some of the worst offenders.

They do this in a variety of ways.

The Koch’s fund a network of right-wing “think tanks” that provide bogus research to support their increasingly extremist policy positions – in New Mexico this is done through the Rio Grande Foundation.

READ MORE: Emails show Rio Grande Foundation sought to fund fake report to bolster Republican agenda

They recently tried to limit accountability and transparency measures being taken by our Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver by sending “20,000 mailers to New Mexico residents and [launching] a digital ad blitz” against her new proposals.

At the legislative level, they feign grassroots support for harmful policies like Right To Work, but they’ve also become increasingly active New Mexico’s local elections.

Case in point: Albuquerque’s recent municipal election.

Our tracking program caught that the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity spent almost $11,000 on video ads, social media, and political mailers during ABQ’s municipal election.

Thanks to really great campaign disclosure laws in Albuquerque groups like Americans for Prosperity must file copies of all their ads, scripts, etc for public inspection with the City Clerk. We sat down at the Clerk’s office and reviewed all those ads in person and are making them available online here so you can see part of the Koch playbook.

The Koch Bros-backed Americans for Prosperity spent $10,927.30 in ABQ’s city elections. (Click to enlarge.) [SOURCE: City of ABQ]

Their main push during the Albuquerque elections was to oppose the earned sick days ballot measure using mailers, walk lit, and online video ads. As an astroturf organization those tactics are all they really have because they don’t have members or real grassroots support among New Mexicans.

Though the earned sick days proposal enjoyed over 70% support among Albuquerque voters, it failed after corporate interests and out-of-state astroturf organizations like Americans for Prosperity came into the city to disrupt it.

Check out the gallery below to see exactly what the Koch Brothers were up to in the Albuquerque elections (click the images to enlarge):


These disclosures of the companies they use, the messages they create and the support they provide to corporate-interest campaigns provides a rare look behind the curtain of Koch operations.

Though the main Albuquerque election is over, there’s still a run-off election where out-of-state interests are mobilizing to stop progress in Albuquerque. And Las Cruces has their city election coming up next week.

View the Progressive Champions PAC voter guide for Albuquerque and Las Cruces by clicking the button below:

We can’t do this important work without you. Help make sure we never miss a move these conservative special interests make in New Mexico by donating to ProgressNow today!