Mary Landrieu’s Koch Problem

Super PAC hits Republican for Koch ties, despite company’s donations to Dem incumbent

Sen. Mary Landrieu
Mary Landrieu / AP
March 13, 2014

A Democratic Super PAC is attacking a Republican Senate candidate for his supposed ties to libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch even though their company’s political arm has donated tens of thousands to the Democrat in the race.

Senate Majority PAC has strong ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who has frequently attacked the Kochs, going so far as to label them "un-American" on the floor of the Senate.

The group is now attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D., La.) opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), for his supposed ties to the Koch Industries owners.

"Out of state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy," the ad says, showing pictures of the Kochs and a stat on ad spending in the race by Americans for Prosperity, to which the Koch brothers have donated.

"Their goal: Another politician bought and paid for," the ad says ominously. "Their agenda: Protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas."

However, Sen. Landrieu has received $27,000 in campaign contributions since 2000 from Koch Industries and its subsidiaries and employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Koch’s political action committee has given Landrieu’s another $35,000, including $15,000 during the current election cycle, making the company one of her PAC’s top 20 donors.

While the company or its employees have not donated to Landrieu in this cycle, they have donated to the Louisiana Democrat in every other election cycle since 2000—even when she was not actually facing reelection.

Senate Majority PAC did not respond to a request for comment on the apparent double standard.

Reid used the word "radical" 17 times in describing the Kochs and their political views during a Thursday speech on the Senate floor and warned that they would prefer a health care system that denies insurance coverage to, among others, "a teen who suffers from acne."

His office did not respond to a request for comment on the Senate Majority PAC ad.

Democrats have settled on Koch-bashing as the central theme of their 2014 midterm messaging strategy.

"There’s no downside to any elected official in this country attacking the Koch brothers. None, zero, zip," Jim Manley, a former Reid aide who now runs a Democratic public relations firm, told BuzzFeed.

However, some Democrats have been criticized for attacking the Kochs or benefitting from such attacks despite having received significant funds from the company.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) recently attacked "the Koch brothers’ reckless agenda" despite having received a $5,000 contribution from Koch Industries’ PAC in September.

Pryor’s PAC took a total of $25,000 from the company.

Both he and Landrieu are facing tough reelection fights. Pryor trails challenger Rep. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) by 11 points among definite voters, according to a recent poll.

Landrieu is down by four among likely voters and by nine among definite voters, according to a poll released on Thursday.