The Koch Network and other Trump allies are quietly backing their biggest GOP critic: Rep. Liz Cheney

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has assembled a group of political advisers with ties to former President Donald Trump and the expanding Koch network as she races for the White House after losing the GOP primary for her Wyoming House seat.

Cheney’s role as vice chairman of the committee investigating Trump’s handling of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has cost the third-highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House his standing in the GOP and his seat in Congress. She lost last week to Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman, one of Trump’s picks for the Republican nomination.

Cheney is now considering running against Trump for president in 2024, she told NBC News, and has quietly hired a team of top GOP advisers to help ensure she doesn’t return to the White House.

“I believe that Donald Trump poses a very serious threat and risk to our republic. And I think that defeating him requires a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and I want to be a part of that,” he said. said in an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show last week.

In the immediate aftermath of his loss, he started a political action committee led by The Great Task that would allow him to keep his political aspirations alive while taking on the former president. Trump, whose home and private club Mar-a-Lago in Florida were raided by the FBI days before the primary, has ruled out running for president again in two years.

Cheney is using Trump’s own advisers and allies, including people from the powerful Koch network, to keep the former president from winning a second term in the White House. Some of them appear to use limited liability companies that hide their identity from the public.

“These people are going to be persona non grata after the Cheney loss,” said a senior GOP strategist close to Trump when asked whether the president and his aides would work with former Cheney advisers. Jeff Miller, a longtime lobbyist and aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told vendors not to work with Cheney’s team, according to the New York Times.

Miller and a Trump spokeswoman did not return requests for comment. A spokesman for Cheney did not return a request for comment.

Billionaire and conservative political supporter Charles Koch is helping Cheney with i360, a data and technology company owned by his group, Koch Industries, according to financial database pitchbook and Federal Election Commission filings.

The filing shows two PACs, Conservatives for a Strong America and Wyomingites Defending Freedom and Democracy, paid i360 to help deploy pro-Cheney ads via text messages. Axios reported that the leader of Wyomingites Defending Freedom and Democracy is former Trump White House aide Julia Griswold Deller, who did not return a request for comment.

Charles Koch, a nonprofit funded in part by Americans for Prosperity, paid i360 $11 million for data services, according to the nonprofit’s 2020 tax disclosure.

Although Koch did not endorse Trump during his 2016 or 2020 campaigns, his political network worked with the Trump administration to support some of the former president’s key initiatives, including cutting regulations for businesses and sweeping tax cuts.

Americans for Prosperity to oppose the more than $400 billion inflation relief act recently signed by President Joe Biden, moderate Sen. Joe Mnuchin, DW.Va. and ran an ad campaign targeting Democratic lawmakers including Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Law this month.

FEC records show that i360 also operated this election cycle. Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom Trump endorsed for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, as well as Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., who voted to impeach the former president and was defeated. recent primary.

Representatives for the pro-Cheney PAC, Koch Industries, i360 and Americans for Prosperity did not return requests for comment.

After the story’s publication, Bill Riggs, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, took issue with the article’s title and noted that the group did not work on the Wyoming House race between Cheney and Hagerman.

“This is clickbait. The headline doesn’t match the facts. AFP and AFP Action have supported more than 300 races this year — the Wyoming House race was not one of them. The midterms are less than three months away. That’s our sole focus, over two years. Not much of a presidential race,” Riggs said in an email Tuesday.

A Koch Industries spokesperson told CNBC in an email after publication of this story that i360 has more than a thousand customers and that anyone using their product does not imply endorsement or support.

“The reality is that i360 has over a thousand customers, most of which are B2B [business to business], countless campaigns and political organizations, and includes candidates supported by former President Trump as well as those who oppose him. “The use of i360s state-of-the-art data technology does not imply endorsement or even sole endorsement,” the spokesperson said.

Trump and the Koch family have not always been close, even after the former president embraced long-sought tax cuts and the nomination of several conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices. Trump tore into the Kochs in 2018, saying in a tweet that they are “a complete joke in real Republican circles, against strong borders and strong trade.” The Koch Network didn’t help Trump in what would be a failed 2020 bid for re-election vs. Biden.

People close to Trump told CNBC that the former president and those allied with him may move to block future work with Cheney’s team.

FEC filings show that one of the Cheney campaign’s top vendors in the 2022 election cycle was a company called Red Right Media. That company was paid more than $1 million for advertising and media services by Cheney’s campaign in his 2022 primary race, including more than $300,000 in July, according to FEC disclosures.

Although it doesn’t appear to have a public website, Virginia business records say Red Right Media is an alternate name for a company called X/Roads Communications. According to state business records, X/Roads Communications is run by Mike Dubke, a veteran Republican strategist who once served as Trump’s White House communications director. Dubke was managing partner of X/Roads Communications before taking the role with Trump in 2017, according to financial disclosures filed while leading the White House communications team.

Dubke resigned from the White House communications post in 2017 after less than 100 days on the job. Since then, Red Right Media has been paid millions of dollars by Republican groups for consulting work, according to data from the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets. Records show that a super PAC called DefendArizona paid more than $4 million for Red Right Media’s services.

The super PAC supported Martha McSally when she unsuccessfully campaigned against cinema in the 2018 election. DefendArizona was funded in part by Citadel CEO Ken Griffin and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

BlackRock Group, a media consulting firm Dubke co-founded that is not affiliated with investment firm BlackRock, was previously paid more than $100,000 by Cheney’s campaign in 2018. Dubke and Black Rock Group did not return requests for comment.

Other past Trump advisers who worked with Cheney during his primary run and who have previously supported Trump include SCM Associates, a New Hampshire-based fundraising and direct mail consulting group. The Cheney campaign paid more than $600,000 for SCM’s help with direct mail advertising. The Trump campaign paid more than $8 million to SCM during the 2020 election cycle, according to campaign finance data.

TAG Strategies, a political marketing firm that worked for Trump on the 2020 campaign and several of his supporting candidates in the midterms, paid Cheney’s campaign about $380,000 for digital and marketing services, according to FEC records, up from $100,000 in May. Trump’s campaign paid more than $200,000 to TAG Strategies during the 2020 election cycle.

Erin Perrin, a vice president at TAG who worked on communications for Trump’s re-election bid, told CNBC in an email that the firm’s work for Cheney was “a single service at one point during the primary.” “TAG is a Republican firm and we work for America First, conservative and center-right candidates,” she said.

SCM did not return a request for comment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.