GOP donors threaten to withhold funds unless their agenda is passed

Attendees at Koch brothers event say they're frustrated at GOP's failure to pass major legislation

Published June 26, 2017 3:54PM (EDT)

Charles and David Koch   (MSNBC/AP/Evan Agostini/<a href=''>RobGreene</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>/Photo montage by Salon)
Charles and David Koch (MSNBC/AP/Evan Agostini/RobGreene via iStock/Photo montage by Salon)

Conservative mega-donors are growing increasingly frustrated with elected Republicans, and it's starting to show.

Despite the fact that the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the presidency, the party has been unable to pass any major legislation — including the top-two agenda items of interest to attendees at a donor retreat sponsored by billionaire brother business magnates Charles and David Koch.

If Republican politicians aren't soon able to pass sufficiently conservative versions of healthcare and tax reform, more than a few right-leaning donors say they're going to stop cutting fundraising checks, according to the Associated Press.

"Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed," Texas-based donor Doug Deason said, calling his donations a "Dallas piggy bank."

"You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There's no reason you can't get this done. Get it done and we'll open it back up," he said.

Large donors, not just the Koch brothers, have an immense influence in Republican politics. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the 20 largest donors to the political action committee controlled by Donald Trump accounted for nearly 15 percent of funds raised in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The son of outsourcing pioneer Darwin Deason, Doug was one of several large GOP donors who tried to push reluctant Republican billionaires to increase their giving in support of Trump's operations.

"There is urgency," Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity told the AP. "We believe we have a window of about 12 months to get as much of it accomplished as possible before the 2018 elections grind policy to a halt."

While the donors want the GOP to push their agenda faster, they also appear to be part of the reason why Republicans haven't been able to deliver. Phillips, who somehow managed to survive as the leader of the organization despite his disastrous leadership in the 2012 elections, has been directing employees to lobby Senate Republicans to make the Better Care Reconciliation Act more conservative.

Likewise, Americans for Prosperity is spending money on advertisements and rallies in 36 different states to boost support for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.


By Matthew Sheffield

Matthew Sheffield is a national correspondent for The Young Turks. He is also the host of the podcast "Theory of Change." You can follow him on Twitter.

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Americans For Prosperity Doug Deason Fundraising Healthcare Koch Brothers Tim Phillips