Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the powerful and influential conservative and libertarian political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch, says that the actions of members of Congress in the days leading up to and after last week’s storming of the Capitol will “weigh heavy” as AFP decides where it will donate its funds in the next election cycle.
The announcement from AFP is the latest signal the Republican donor class and corporate America are increasingly wary of supporting Republicans who joined President Trump’s repeated unsuccessful attempts to stay in power by trying to reverse his election defeat at the hands of President-elect Joe Biden.
Roughly two-thirds of House Republicans, as well as eight GOP senators, voted last week against certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory over the president, even after the attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters who were encouraged just hours earlier by the president to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the congressional election certification. Five people, including a Capitol Hill Police officer, died in the rioting.
“We decide to support candidates based on their record and ability to lead on policy that will help people improve their lives. With that standard in mind, lawmakers’ actions leading up to and during last week’s insurrection will weigh heavy in our evaluation of future support. And we will continue to look for ways to support those policymakers who reject the politics of division and work together to move our country forward,” Emily Seidel, CEO of Americans for Prosperity and senior adviser for AFP Action, AFP’s campaign arm, said in a statement.
The Wednesday night statement was first reported by Politico and obtained by Fox News as well. It came soon after the House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” Ten Republicans voted to impeach the president, with 197 House Republicans voting against impeachment.
The statement appears to be the latest signal that billionaire Charles Koch is increasingly distancing his multiple organizations from Trump and his supporters in Congress.
AFP’s various groups long been major supporters and contributors of conservative causes and candidates – and a dozen years ago helped fund the rise of the Tea Party movement. Americans for Prosperity Action, AFP’s campaign arm, spent over $60 million in supporting federal candidates across the country during the 2020 cycle, supporting 275 candidates up and down the ballot in 29 states. And the group spent significantly in state races as well
AFP’s move comes after a growing number of corporate PACs suspended their donations to congressional Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts to reverse his presidential election defeat.
Longtime Republican fundraiser and lobbyist David Tamasi, who raised money for the president in 2016 and 2020, told Fox News last week when it comes to Trump, “you’re not going to see any financial support from Washington or from the business community or any Republican who is not associated with the fringe.”
And that plunge in financial contributions now applies to Trump supporters.
Longtime GOP strategist Jim Merrill, a veteran of numerous Republican presidential campaigns, told Fox News the drying up of support will quickly have an impact.
“In the short term, it’s tough to lose that revenue and it’s tough to have that message out there that business leaders around the country are saying they don’t align with where the Republican message is right now,” Merrill said.
Brian Walsh, a longtime Republican consultant and veteran of numerous GOP Senate campaigns, predicted that “the months ahead will be a defining period for both the GOP and a business community which has historically supported them.”
He noted that “on the one hand, after losing the White House and the popular vote by 7 million votes, it’s a wake-up call that there are serious political consequences with being defined by Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric.”
But Walsh added that “at the same time, the business community will need to decide if they want to stick with the party of lower taxes and less government, or a liberal Democratic Party that wants to raise their taxes and impose massive new regulations on their businesses. Which direction both sides decide to go in will have major political ramifications for the years ahead.”
Merrill also forecast a reckoning for the GOP.
“As we look forward to a post-Trump presidency for the party, there are some people very thoughtfully talking about how Republicans should be more of a party that’s working for the working class and I think President Trump has demonstrated that, in part, of the past couple of years,” he emphasized.
“Marco Rubio’s a great example of someone who’s talking a lot about how GOP policy should be more in line with main street and not chambers of commerce anymore,” added Merrill, who was the conservative Florida senator’s top adviser during his unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid.
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