NPR reports that the recent private Palm Spring Koch conclave featured presentations by presidential aspirants Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
NPR writes, “The political network led by industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend $889 million for the 2016 elections.”
Before the pledging session at the Palm Springs conference, donors watched three likely GOP presidential candidates in a debate. Moderator Jonathan Karl, of ABC News, asked the three about the influence of wealthy donors.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the real political corruption involves government contracts: “I haven’t met one person since I’ve been here or as I travel around the country who’s come up to me saying, ‘Oh, I want a contract.’ They simply wanna be left alone.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the real corruption was about special access, which wasn’t happening with these donors. “I don’t know a single person in this room who’s ever been to my office, and I haven’t seen everyone here today, but a single one who’s been to my office asking from government any special access.”
But it was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who gave a full-throated endorsement of his hosts.
“Let me very clear. I admire Charles and David Koch,” he said. “They are businessmen who have created hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Cruz paused for the audience to clap. “And they have stood up for free market principles and endured vilification, with equanimity and grace.”
There’s no word yet on whether the donors were dazzled. But the Koch network is showing interest in jumping into the presidential primary fight, something it’s never done before.