Is Charles Koch joking about funding Democratic candidates?

Charles Koch
Charles Koch Patrick T. Fallon for The Washington Post

Charles Koch said at a Colorado Springs retreat for donors this weekend that he’s open to supporting some Democratic candidates in the future.

That’s not out-of-nowhere; Koch and his ailing brother David, who last month retired from political work as well as from Koch Industries, often agree with Democrats on sentencing reform.

They’re at odds with President Donald Trump on both style and substance and did not support his 2016 presidential run.

Charles Koch told reporters in Colorado that he’s been disappointed in some of the candidates he has supported in the past, too. And of course, the libertarian advocate for free trade continues to be at odds with Trump over his protectionist trade policies.

Asked how he’d react if Democrats won back the House of Representatives, Koch said, “I don’t care what initials are in front or after somebody’s name. I’d like there to be many more politicians who would embrace and have the courage to run on a platform” with which the Kochs agree.

Politico reported that the whole “tone of the weekend was a departure from previous years.”

But what the Koch political network is actually doing is no departure at all; they’re still funding Republican candidates they hope will help the GOP maintain control of Congress.

Their Americans for Prosperity targeted Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill with $1.8 million in negative TV and internet ads after she voted against Trump’s tax cuts.

They’re also supporting Prop A in Missouri, which would put the union-weakening right-to-work law into effect.

Charles Koch’s regret, as he explains it, is that the Republicans he’s backed in the past haven’t always kept their promises to cut spending.

So it’s hard to imagine which Democrat he might support, even if his network has declined to support a couple of specific Republicans this cycle, as they have in the past. They’re not supporting the moderate Republican Nevada incumbent, Sen. Dean Heller, and have also taken a pass on backing North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer in his challenge to vulnerable Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

In 2020, would the Koch network really withhold support from the president whose tax cuts benefited the Kochs so directly? We’re skeptical.

If the Kochs do support Trump after all, it won’t be because Steve Bannon says the they should “shut up and get with the program.”

There are billions of other reasons they’re likely to come around: Americans for Tax Fairness, which opposed the Trump cuts, estimated that “Charles Koch and David Koch and/or Koch Industries could save between $1 billion and $1.4 billion combined in income taxes each year from the Trump tax law — and that doesn’t even count how much the brothers might save in taxes on offshore profits or how much their heirs will benefit from weakening the estate tax.”

Charles Koch leads Koch Industries and is well known for his monetary involvement in political campaigns. Here's what you need to know about the billionaire CEO from Wichita Kansas.