The Koch Brothers have largely gone radio silent during this campaign season, and no one is officially saying why.
But this much is clear: Since January of 2015, when Charles and David Koch pledged their network would raise and spend $889 million on ads during the 2016 campaign cycle, a dramatic shift occurred within the organization, the National Review reports.
"There was much more an emphasis on getting back to the policy aspect, as opposed to the electoral aspect," one Koch insider told the National Review.
In 2014, the Koch group aired 44,000 ads by Labor Day, a number they won't reach this cycle. Again, in 2014, the Kochs had spent $35 million on Senate contests compared to less than $10 million for the same period this year.
Further, cutbacks and departures have rocked the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group that handled political activities for the Kochs, as well as the Competitive Intelligence Team (CIT), a group of about 30 who conducted an opposition research on liberal groups and Democratic campaigns, according to the National Review.
Without a robust political budget, there was no way to pay for CIT operations, and without the CIT, it was clear there would no longer be a robust political budget.
Is this the Kochs losing their appetite for retail politics or a deeper issue with the cast of GOP candidates, including presumptive nominee Donald Trump?
In an April interview with CNN,
Charles Koch said it was "possible" that Hillary Clinton would make a better president than a Republican, saying there was an outside chance he would support her in November.
"I think when [the Kochs] said, 'We don't know what to do about Trump' … it revealed to us something we didn't know," one longtime Koch donor told the National Review. "We thought when the grassroots was voting for conservative candidates that they understood the policies and supported the policies, and maybe that's not true."
Or is it realization that that there is no "bang for the buck" in federal campaigns?
Again in April, this time in an interview with ABC News, Charles Koch lamented the return on investment in spending hundreds of millions of dollars in ad campaigns.
"I think there have been some good things, particularly at the state and local level," Charles Koch said, according to the National Review. "At the federal level, we haven't in any way changed the trajectory of the country."
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