David and Charles Koch, billionaire owners of Koch Industries, are wading into a Colorado congressional race to support incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in his fight against his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Morgan Carroll.
The Washington Post today reported that the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity is launching a six-figure campaign Wednesday that will send out hundreds of staffers in the 6th Congressional District, which covers Aurora, to urge voters to vote for Coffman.
But that contradicts what AFP’s Colorado chapter has said in the past. In an email to The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins last May, AFP spokesperson Tamra Farah said the group doesn’t offer endorsements.
“Though we don’t endorse candidates, we do hold them accountable on their positions related to common-sense policy priorities that protect the interests of all Coloradans,” she said.
Michael Fields, Colorado director for AFP, told The Independent Tuesday morning that the Washington Post story is incorrect on that point — AFP says it is not, in fact, telling voters to support Coffman. “We are doing express advocacy against Morgan Carroll and not talking about Coffman,” Fields said. “We rarely do express advocacy,” he said, noting that the only other time was in the 2014 election when they advocated against the 2014 re-election of then-U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Eldorado Springs, who was in a tight race that he lost to now-U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma.
The Washington Post report said the Colorado effort was due in part to an ability to target districts where “AFP already has staff and resources and can most efficiently impact voting outcomes.”
KOCHPAC, a political action committee run by Koch Industries, has already donated $10,000 to Coffman’s re-election campaign this year. It matches what the PAC gave to Coffman in 2014 and 2012, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The Carroll campaign Tuesday morning pointed out even stronger ties between AFP and Coffman. Dustin Zvonek, now a regional director for AFP, served most recently as Coffman’s district director as well as Coffman’s campaign manager in 2008. He was hired as state director of AFP in 2013 and promoted to regional director last year, according to The Denver Post. Zvonek is still based in Colorado, according to his Twitter account.
“The last person that the Koch brothers want to see in Congress fighting on behalf of hardworking Coloradans is Morgan Carroll,” according to Carroll for Colorado Campaign Manager Jennifer Donovan. Carroll has been an advocate for campaign finance reform, including more disclosures of corporate spending, at the state level during her time as a state lawmaker, the campaign noted.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons, Flickr