Koch Brothers Orchestrate Grassroots Effort To Lower Corporate Taxes, Documents Show

July 26, 2017
Lee Fang, Nick Surgey

THE billionaire Koch Brothers are well-prepared for the upcoming debate over tax reform, with allies arranging to plant questions at town hall meetings and efforts to orchestrate a grassroots army to demand lower corporate taxes.

A detailed timeline for the Koch strategy was laid out in a recent document prepared by a public relations firm that services the broad network of conservative advocacy groups controlled by the billionaire brothers’ political network. The plan calls for action to take advantage of President Donald Trump’s pledges to reform the tax code. Trump has called for cutting the corporate tax rate by as much as 50 percent, and eliminating the estate tax on inherited wealth, creating a unique opportunity to propose legislation that would benefit business owners such as the Koch brothers.

“Comprehensive tax reform has been a long-standing priority for our network, and the election of Donald Trump, coupled with pro-freedom majorities in the House and Senate, offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore prosperity by enacting reforms,” the document, obtained by The Intercept, declares.

The strategy memo lays out a five-phase plan for passing a version of tax reform that is favorable to the Koch donor network. The Koch brothers make clear that their ideal tax reform legislation would exclude the idea of an import or carbon tax, while focusing on broad reductions in the corporate tax rate.

Although a portion of the strategy entails traditional lobbying and meetings with influential policymakers, along with paid advertising to pressure lawmakers, the memo also calls for substantial resources to be invested in grassroots advocacy.

During Phase 3 of the strategy, starting next month, the Koch network will use its grassroots advocacy arms, including Americans for Prosperity, to put pressure on members of Congress when they return home for town hall meetings during the August recess period. The Koch network will use constituent meetings to “drive the narrative” around the need for their tax reform ideas, the memo said.


Advancing Comprehensive Tax Reform document


The metadata of the document shows that it was created by Avery Boggs, a former vice president at Freedom Partners, the umbrella group that oversees the Koch political network. Boggs now works as a vice president at In Pursuit Of, a public relations firm spun off from the Koch network designed to provide marketing services to the various groups that receive funding from Freedom Partners.

The Koch network includes a range of political advocacy organizations, each designed to play a particular role in advancing causes and candidates backed by the billionaire energy tycoons and their allies. Americans for Prosperity, for instance, has about 500 paid staffers, and plays a leading role in organizing broad grassroots campaigns. Another group, Concerned Veterans for Americans, focuses on mobilizing veterans. The network includes i360, a campaign data company that developed intricate profiles of voters.

Last week, Politico reported that Americans for Prosperity plans to kick off tax reform efforts on August 2 at an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a conservative leader in Congress, will speak at the event.

The Koch network, a major importer of Canadian tar sands oil, has lobbied aggressively to ensure that any tax reform package does not include the import tax once favored by Trump. Recent disclosures show they have attempted to influence the “House Republican Tax Reform Blueprint Draft.”

The tax reform memo was distributed around the time of a Koch network retreat, held to collaborate with like-minded conservative business leaders and investors, last month in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the event, the brothers pledged to raise $300 million for their network over the next year.