Koch brothers launch energy-focused super PAC

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A new political group backed by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch plans to spend millions of dollars on energy-related issues in the midterm elections.

The oil magnate Koch brothers unveiled the super political action committee, Freedom Partners Action Fund, at a closed-door conference with GOP donors over the weekend near Laguna Beach, Calif.

Freedom Partners, run by a former Koch Industries lobbyist, plans to spend more than $13 million on anti-environmental messaging as part of a reported $290 million election-year effort to help elect conservative candidates.

The super PAC moved quickly to criticize Democrats and the Obama administration, saying the federal government relies on “unsound science to justify its decisions” on energy policy.

“Technological advancements and innovation from private industry have ensured an abundant supply of energy” including coal, oil and natural gas, the group wrote on its website. But “environmental regulations, an unaccountable federal bureaucracy, activist judges, and the fringe environmental groups are working together to stall the production and use of these vital resources.”

The super PAC is an outgrowth of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers-backed trade association that spent nearly $240 million in 2012 on nonprofit groups including Americans for Prosperity, finance records show.

Americans for Prosperity and other groups with ties to the Koch brothers have been vocal opponents of environmental regulations that would limit carbon emissions from the oil and gas industries.

Unlike the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the super PAC is required by law to list the names of its donors. But the group’s transparency is unlikely to appease Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who have hammered the Koch brothers’ influence on politics in recent months.

The Koch network has already raised more than half of its eye-opening $290 million fundraising goal for the cycle, according to a report by the Daily Beast.