The 2012 election broke all sorts of records for money in politics. And now, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at Politico have found another $236 million spent by Freedom Partners, "an Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics." The group, which Politico dubs "the Koch brothers' secret bank," has raised at least $256 million since its formation in November 2011, from "about 200 donors, paying at least $100,000 each in annual dues."
Allen and VandeHei know this because the group's president, longtime GOP operative Marc Short, gave them a soon-to-be-public IRS document. The 38-page filing, they write, "amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of conservative groups — some prominent, some obscure — that spend time, money and resources to influence public debate, especially over ObamaCare." Almost half the money, $115 million, went to the ObamaCare-fighting group the Center to Protect Patient Rights. Here's an excerpt from Politico's report:
Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers.... It made grants of $236 million — meaning a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which together spent about $300 million....
Short says his members are "concerned that the nation that they grew up in and that their businesses have flourished in will not be there for their children and grandchildren," and are "committed to trying to restore what they view are free markets in a free society in America." [Politico]