Few billionaires play a more influential role in bankrolling right-wing and fossil fuel interests than the Koch brothers, whose affiliated groups pledged to spend up to $400 million this election.
A ThinkProgress analysis of Kantar Media CMAG data finds that outside groups with strong Koch ties spent $95 million on more than 100,000 TV ad spots between April and October 27. Most groups ran at least one ad attacking clean energy investments and prioritizing oil above all, although the majority of the ads focused on the economy and federal spending.
Koch group spending in the presidential race rivals another major player in Republican ad wars: Karl Rove’s groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS together funded $95.4 million on ads that aired more than 130,000 times.
These Koch-linked groups, most of which don’t disclose donors, have aired close to $100 million worth in ads:
Americans For Prosperity: $31.7 million
American Energy Alliance: $461,000
AEA has run two fossil fuel ads in seven states. AEA’s president Thomas Pyle was former director of federal affairs for Koch Industries, and it is affiliated with the Koch- and ExxonMobil-backed Institute for Energy Research. AEA’s recent ad, “Stand With Coal,” runs parallel to the group’s anti-wind campaign to make tax credits “so toxic” Republicans won’t support them. An ad titled “Nine Dollar Gas” aired during peak gas price season was riddled with lies about who to blame for gas prices. Despite the ample evidence that increased oil production doesn’t lower prices, their ad pins blame on the president.
Restore Our Future: $48.88 million
The pro-Romney super PAC has run a number of ads targeting the economy, stimulus, and unemployment. William Koch, the third Koch brother, has funneled millions of dollars to the pro-Romney super PAC group through his company Oxbow Carbon. Oxbow has donated $3.75 million to Restore Our Future, in addition to William Koch’s $250,000 contribution.
American Future Fund: $5.26 million
Americans For Job Security: $8.85 million
Americans For Job Security has an ad on the economy running in eight states. Like American Future Fund, it is Koch connected through the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights.
Outside group spending on TV ads is just one part of the story where Koch money fueled Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Beyond saturating the airways, the Kochs have sought to influence their employees’ votes, warning of company-wide “consequences” if Mitt Romney loses. This summer, the Koch brothers raised $3 million at a fundraiser they hostedfor the candidate. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity has doubled down on its gas price lies with publicity stunts around the country offering cheap gas to voters, and an expanded ground operation.