Republican Governors Association Head Says Non-Partisan Group His Strongest Partner

AUDIO OBTAINED FROM A SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.

 

MORNING SESSION: THE STRATEGY IN ACTION // PART 2 OF 2

June 16, 2014

  

MARC SHORT, PRESIDENT OF FREEDOM PARTNERS,

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY,

AND PHIL COX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION

 

“2014 Debate:

Immediate Opportunities to Defend Freedom”

 

PHIL COX: We’ve been very blessed because of your support of this seminar, a great partner with I360, Concerned Vets, LIBRE. We’ve really had no stronger partner over the last four years than Americans for Prosperity. So thank you for all that you do.

So let’s go ahead and take a look at the map. We have 36 governors’ races this year. The majority are (inaudible). Nineteen incumbents are up for re-election. I want to take a quick look at them in three categories.

First, we have 17 states — 10 Republican held, seven Democrat held –- uh, where they’re not currently competitive. Things we’re going to continue to watch for right now, but right now they’re not currently competitive. So let’s (inaudible) for now.

Of the 19 states left, we have 10 states, six held by Republicans, four by the Democrats. Um, these states are to some degree competitive as states that RGA either has or will invest in going forward this year, but I really want to focus on the last category.

Nine states are most competitive, six states with Republican governors, three where we have pickup opportunities. The six states — Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Maine — with a Republican incumbent governor. These are six states that Barack Obama has won twice, and these are the six states that the public sector unions and the Steyer brothers have publicly targeted. The three states — Connecticut, Illinois, and Arkansas — these are all three states where candidates, indeed for Connecticut, are tied or in the case of Arkansas and Illinois, are currently, uh, leading.

There are four states from other groups that I’ve identified as priorities of this seminar, so I’ll take just a couple minutes to take a closer look at these states. The first is Florida. Florida is obviously a critical battleground state. This will be the most expensive race this cycle, Senate or governor. Well over $100 million, maybe as much as $150 million, will be spent in Florida this year alone.

This will represent the largest single expenditure in RGA’s history. The RGA will spend likely more than $20 million in this state alone this year. Again, a state that’s been publicly targeted, uh, by the Steyer brothers. Um, it’s going to be a very hotly contested and expensive race this year.

And there could not be a more clear contrast in this race between Governor Scott and Charlie Crist. Governor Scott has rolled up his sleeves and put policies in place to make Florida an engine of economic growth. The unemployment rate is down five points. Five hundred and forty thousand net new private sector jobs have been created in his term. Florida is second only to Texas in terms of overall job creation.

Now, he’s running against (inaudible) Charlie Crist over here. He is literally the ultimate political opportunist (inaudible). Republican walks into a bar, and the bartender says, (hey, Charlie, how you doing.)

(Laughter.)

PHIL COX: More importantly — more importantly, when Crist was governor, um, the state shed 800,000 private sector jobs, and the unemployment rate went from three and a half to 11 percent. So there’s a clear contrast in this race.

Three months ago, Governor Scott trailed by 12 points. It was looking pretty dire. Over the last eight weeks, the RGA and the Scott campaign have put $12 million into this race just over the last two months. Today, for the first time Governor Scott’s job approval is over 50 percent. Charlie Crist’s (inaudible) has come down a net 15 points in the last few months. Uh, and most importantly, the (inaudible).

(Video presentation – Obamacare ad.)

—CUT IN AUDIO—

PHIL COX: In Wisconsin, because of your support, the 2012 recall, uh, the, the story is very clear. Governor Walker’s reforms are working. He’s taken a $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a billion dollar surplus, a billion dollars in tax relief. He’s cut taxes three times already this year alone. A hundred thousand net new private sector jobs. The unemployment rate is at the lowest point since 2008.

And a statistic I think you’ll all care about, given how heavily involved AFP and other groups were in the recall, uh, since the collective bargaining reforms were in place, teachers’ union membership in Wisconsin is down (inaudible) percent.

(Applause.)

PHIL COX: In Wisconsin, it was a really tough battle in 2012. AFP was a tremendous partner. And it’s still a very polarized electorate there. Um, Walker’s (inaudible) is pretty high, probably 47-48, but he’s handling it pretty well, and I don’t see him probably getting beyond 54 or 55. So it’s going to be a state we’re heavily engaged in.

The RGA has already put $18 million in Walker over the last four years. We’re not going to let up now. We put $2 million in this spring. Uh, AFP has been on the air. Walker’s been on the air, and the governor currently leads by six points. This is a race we’re going to have to be engaged in right on until the end.

He’s running against Mary Burke. Uh, Mary Burke, her family owns and operates Trek Bicycle in Houston, and about eight million of her own money in this race, so this one we’re going to be heavily involved in.

Michigan, this guy on the left, Governor Snyder, is a self-described “one tough nerd.” We now like to call him the “Comeback Kid.” The unemployment rate is down four points in Michigan since he eliminated the anti-competitive Michigan business tax. He’s provided strong leadership to save Detroit. Um, and he’s really got — he did this small little thing — he took the home of the UAW and he made it a right-to-work state.

(Applause.)

PHIL COX: Now, the unions, as you can imagine, are a little fired up. Uh, they’re not very happy with Governor Snyder (inaudible).

—CUT IN AUDIO—

The RGA’s already spent $3 million (inaudible) spend a lot more into the fall. As Marc referenced, it’s a blue state where Governor Snyder currently leads by eight points. Um, he’s right anywhere between 10 and 15 points ahead of Terri Lynn Land. I think he’s going to lead the ticket. It’s also a state where the RGA already has, can, and will continue to correctly invest into the state party. So we — our investment with the RGA can impact get-out-the-vote efforts that can help Terri Lynn Land in that Michigan Senate race.

The last state is Arkansas, another state where we have a competitive Senate race and a great candidate in Tom Cotton. Um, it’s an open seat for governor. Retiring, uh, outgoing Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat who’s very popular. Mike Ross is the Democrat.

The Democrats are all in in Arkansas both on the Senate side and the gubernatorial side. They’ve already spent $3 million this spring. They started early. They started in January (inaudible) and Asa Hutchinson trailed by four points. Now, the RGA went out and we spent about $2 million tying Mike Ross, a former congressman, to Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, as you pointed out his votes on the stimulus and the auto bailout.

And today Asa leads by eight points. Again, another state where our candidate for governor, a Republican candidate for governor is running ahead of our U.S. Senate candidate as a state where the RGA is investing literally millions of dollars in the get-out-the-vote activities.

So those are four states that have been identified as priorities for this seminar. When I take a look back — when I take a step back and kind of look at the 30,000-foot view of what this election is shaping up to be, I, I’m optimistic I think for three reasons. First, uh, the political environment is good and it’s getting better. Obama is stuck at 42 nationally and, of course, there’s no signs of life for him in the legislature.

Um, as Rich mentioned yesterday, uh, it’s an off year. This is going to be a more Republican electorate by nature, that that third of freedom, freedom-minded voters is going to occupy a greater percentage of the electorate this year. The turnout is going to be closer to 50, 50 percent in most states – uh, in most of these competitive states as opposed to 70 percent, uh, in the 2012 presidential.

And then when you look at the most interested voters, uh, the voters who are most interested in this election, they’re our voters. We have a four to five point advantage both in the House, Senate, and governors’ races generically across the board. So the political environment looks good.

If you look at the Senate now, in the 36 states where we have governors’ races, there are 25 U.S. Senate races. That’s a tremendous overlap. If you go back 30 years to 1994, 75 percent of the time when we win the governor’s race, we win the U.S. Senate race all in the same year, making a strong correlation between winning governors’ races and winning Senate races.

Unlike in 2012 in states like Missouri and Indiana where our candidates for governor were having to run away from our, our Senate candidate, this year our candidates for governor and senator are really reinforcing one another both on the messaging and the get-out-the-vote side. And four states — in Arkansas, Michigan, Georgia, and Iowa — our candidates for governor are running, uh, anywhere between five to 15 points ahead of our candidates for the U.S. Senate. Again these are (inaudible) where the RGA has spent well over $5 million in these four states in get-out-the-vote operations to help our Senate candidates.

And then finally, and most importantly, our governors are getting results, and their states are moving in the right direction. Uh, our governors inherited a mess in 2011. They turned deficits into surpluses without raising taxes and reforming education, their pensions, their health, their tax, their regulatory systems.

Most importantly, they made job creation job one — job one. They put policies in place to make their states engines of economic growth.

—CUT IN AUDIO—

The most important thing, really the most important indicator is, as to a governor’s, incumbent governor’s re-election prospects as we’ve seen here today, is how voters perceive the direction of the state. We looked at this question. Uh, this is the net change — this slide is a net change from 2011 when they asked this question to today. Uh, five of the six most competitive states have Republican governors. Look at that net change in that right track number: 36 points in Ohio, 25 points in Florida.

Democrats have a very different story to tell. When we met in Illinois yesterday, one of the presentations — you ask the question in Illinois, 19 percent of the voters in Illinois think the state is moving in the right direction — 19 percent. We have a great argument for change in Illinois. Our Republican governors can very easily answer the question, “Are you better off than you — than you were four years ago?” This is a key indicator for the re-election prospects of any sitting governor, as we sit here today four and a half a months out.

So with that, I want to thank you for your support. I want to thank David specifically for his very strong support of the RGA and AFP’s great partnership over the last four years. We’re going to be keeping our foot on the gas here over the next four and a half months. Thank you all so much.

(Applause.)

MARC SHORT: Thank you, Phil. I’m going to wrap up now just with a quick summary of the path forward. Um, we’ve shared with you the House, the Senate, and the gubernatorial races. We know as the year moves forward, there will be one more big investment (inaudible) be proud to be part of (inaudible) to help dramatically (inaudible). But what we have seen a lot of investors (inaudible) of what we think is our competitive advantage is our grassroots operations.

We promised you after 2012 that one of our lessons learned was that we needed to build a permanent ground infrastructure in the battleground states. In the last six months, we’ve doubled the size of our infrastructure in the competitive states (inaudible). We’re not there. We are building infrastructure for the long term. So when we talk about the investments of 2014, in many cases, it’s beginning to build a staff that will help us in 2016, 2018, 2020, and beyond.

Now, as we close in the last 60 days, I’ll give you one investment from this operation. It doesn’t mean we’ll be completely off the airwaves. What we’ve found is that because of FEC (inaudible) we do not mention candidates (inaudible) fighting in the last 60 days every 501(c)(4) (inaudible). It’s what many of our partner organizations want.

So here’s one thing for now, we have launched a new 527. As many of you are familiar with, it’s also known as a super PAC. The reason for this is it gives us we think another (inaudible) that will enable us to be more impactful in the closing 60 days and be more direct in what we’re trying to accomplish.

Many of you in this audience have already given to super PACS and are comfortable with that disclosure. If you are such an individual and you wish to partner with us, we would ask you to consider that part of your pledge is allocated to the new Freedom Partners PAC. For those of you who (inaudible) have a preference for (inaudible) in ways we are not disclosed, traditional vehicles will still be available to you. But for those of you who are comfortable and understand the need to be more specific in what we’re advocating for in the closing 60 days of the election, we would ask you to consider this as part of your contribution.

When we met in January, we told you our budget for 2014 was $290 million, and it still is. We, um, you’ll see on this pie chart that we focus a lot, that we talk about the media. It’s what the media covers. And you can see that we’re asking $10 million from the action fund, and we’ve spent $69 million already.

Basically we will end up getting back at least $7 million (inaudible). But as you see, that is not a chronic investment (inaudible). We acknowledge it’s what gets covered, but more important, it is what we do with our competitive advantage over the long term.

We also are continuing to invest on data operations. We’ve made tremendous strides there. For those of you interested, right after this session, there will be breakouts led by Michael Palmer and Emily Seidel, who will talk to people about (inaudible). Mark Holden’s presentation that preceded ours shared with you some information we’ve gathered from our new competitive intelligence that we continue to build out. We shared with you as well the investment information (inaudible) the intellectual foundation we use to help build our issue ads.

Keep in mind why you do this, why you engage in the election in 2014, is that the Republican budget that has been offered to spend a trillion dollars less in the next ten years than the Obama budget. Spending is a critical issue, as well as healthcare.

If Republicans can control the House and the Senate, we would, in fact, (inaudible) one of the last opportunities (inaudible) at repealing Obamacare. I acknowledge the President will never sign legislation that repeals it, but it does provide the opportunity to begin to defund central elements of it and begin to peel it back. That’s why we (inaudible). If it remains the law of the land for two more years, it will be that much worse.

So moving this forward, I thank you for the support you’ve given us. We thank you for helping us to extend this network (inaudible) onslaught of this Administration [BACKGROUND NOISE].

KEVIN GENTRY: Thank you very much, Marc.

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: (Inaudible) we had breakouts in the — on the second day, and we’ll have (inaudible) feedback on those. We’re going to give that opportunity to you now. If you want to go to a breakout on the three, just up above on the fifth floor in Monarch. Voter turnout is in Monarch 1. One of the folks in the hallway will guide you. Voter turnout is on the data, persuasion, the get-out-the-vote messaging. That’s in Monarch 1. Candidate ID, support, and training is in Monarch 2. Youth engagement is in Monarch 3.

And if you’re interested in the Battleground Texas effort, that’s something where our competitive intelligence efforts have been key to uncover what the left is doing to turn Texas. And as you all know, in an electoral situation in a presidential race, if Texas flips, we’re toast.

—CUT IN AUDIO—

And then finally, this copy of the Democracy Alliance giving report, and you can pick up a copy from (inaudible) for reference. The one thing I would urge you to do is not to contribute (inaudible) to them.

(Laughter.)

KEVIN GENTRY: Not. Don’t be confused. All right, we will break. Breakouts will be back here at 11:20 where State Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa, and Congressman Cory Gardner from Colorado, and Congressman Tom Cotton of Arkansas will talk about the Senate in more detail. Thanks.

(End of session.)

 

 

Koch Operatives Discuss 2014 Senate Strategy

AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.

 

MORNING SESSION: THE STRATEGY IN ACTION // PART 1 OF 2

June 16, 2014

 

MARC SHORT, PRESIDENT OF FREEDOM PARTNERS,

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY

 

“2014 Debate:

Immediate Opportunities to Defend Freedom”

 

P R O C E E D I N G S

KEVIN GENTRY: Just a couple of items. You all have given us some great feedback over the last 24 hours, and we try to respond to that. I do want to, uh, uh, I think the one thing we addressed late yesterday, and that was those of you who would be willing to help with op-eds, letters, publications, really appreciate those (inaudible).

Let’s be clear. We’re very appreciative. We understand that a number of you are in the retail business or whatever it is. You really would prefer to keep your confidentiality. We are not pressing you to do anything that’s beyond — for your survival. So, so for those of you have said you would love to do it (inaudible), but certainly want as much as you can.

The second item of feedback was that a number of you (inaudible) this is a beautiful location you all picked for the meeting. And um, and so actually in response to that, what we want to do (inaudible) a moment, where you have a, a place (inaudible) where you can get your picture taken. Well, in the spirit of what we have, we have our friend, Harry Reid –

(Laughter.)

KEVIN GENTRY: And what we’re going to do — thank you, Harry. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard him say the words “un-American.” But we’re going to put this up on the terrace. If you want your picture taken with Harry Reid at the uh, St. Regis (inaudible) you can do that.

(Laughter.)

KEVIN GENTRY: The other, uh, item is that you all have been very nice about giving me feedback about how you know, you appreciate trying to keep us on schedule and notice (inaudible) up here sometimes to (inaudible). And I realize I don’t have the gumption (inaudible). So what we’re going to do from now on, if somebody goes over time, is first you’re going to hear — you’re going to hear — (Harry Reid buzzer saying “un-American”).

(Laughter.)

KEVIN GENTRY: Okay, so that’s the enforcement. You’re going to be (inaudible) out, called out (inaudible) if you go over time.

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: All right. In the spirit of that, Tim Phillips, Marc Short, come on up! (Inaudible).

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: Welcome. By the way, you also have some comment cards on your, uh, tables, so if at any moment, any point you would, uh, have some questions you would like us to address this morning, it may be easier (inaudible) throughout the rest of the morning.

Okay. So we’re at the point now where yesterday we talked about three big, long-term items on, uh, the driving the national conversation, uh, working with, uh, universities, also ad, ad, advancing in the states. I think that really — I think the federal impact, but at the end of the day it’s the electoral nature of stuff. And I want to give some of you all a context, uh, for what we’ve been doing with the network, particularly for those of you who are relatively new.

So as Charles mentioned, we first (inaudible) 2003, 2004, 2005. Uh, that was during the, uh, the Bush years. Frankly, those Bush years (inaudible) Republican majority (inaudible) dah, dah, dah. Anyway, we were trying to build this group together, but we really weren’t focusing on building electoral capabilities. There was, there was a lot of the stuff for higher education for which we are now seeing the product of that investment many years ago, and also building the grassroots capabilities, such as Americans for Prosperity. Many of you in this room started building in your states — in Ohio, in New Jersey, in Oregon, in Minnesota, and that was another aspect of it.

But after the 2008 election, of course, uh, we realized (inaudible) 2008, that it was very likely John McCain was not going to win the election, and we focused on the Senate races (inaudible) and the Supreme Court (inaudible). But after 2008, this group focused on (inaudible) one was “survival threat injury” of, of that dreaded (inaudible) Obamacare (inaudible) campaign, unique capabilities, but also we would begin to build election capabilities for 2010.

And you all remember, you were a part of it, the analysis was an element in stopping the worst threat from the Obama juggernaut was to try to flip control of one House. And we looked at the House of Representatives –- you all pooled your resources — $110 million dollars in 2010. Very prioritized, and it was very strategic, very systematic. And with your help, we were successful.

Now, some of you remember what happened in that context as well. Remember the Citizens United decision after Obama was elected, which really flipped him out? Remember him chastising the Supreme Court at the State of the Union address in 2010? Very, uh, unbecoming for the President of the United States to call them out. And he really fixated on you all in this room, as Mark has said, which is also (inaudible) Rules for Radicals, because you, you know, they’re much stronger (inaudible) vilify us and go after us.

Those of you remember our January 2011 meeting. Uh, this was the — what we were met with in Palm Springs. Uh, this was an organized effort by labor unions from Los Angeles and others to try to intimidate us. Um, we now know that this was largely organized by Van Jones, an alumnus from the Obama Administration, who organized the Occupy Wall Street movement. That was not a spontaneous, organic grassroots effort, by the way, just so you know. That was an effort organized by Van Jones. Uh, so this was more, you know –- you all are it. You all are what are (inaudible) standing between, you know, a free America, and collectivism, and this is how they, uh see it.

So just to put this in the context of where we are in these elections, after 2008, (inaudible) three capabilities (inaudible) we don’t need to build are, number one, data. Our data was in bad shape, the entire conference. The Republican National Committee was going to get that done (inaudible) said make this happen (inaudible) invested (inaudible) millions of dollars in our own database, I360, better messaging and better voter contact by groups like Americans for Prosperity.

The next phase going after 2010, you all said, well, the next big gap we need to fill is outreach to Hispanic and Latino voters, outreach to young voters, outreach to veterans, outreach to faith-based voters. And those were additional capabilities that came from this group. (Inaudible) Concerned Veterans for America, Generation Opportunity, the Institute for (inaudible) Economics, all right?

And then after 2012, Charles said, okay, (inaudible) building capabilities. We now have three other areas we need to, uh, to focus on. One is competitive intelligence (inaudible) better (inaudible) segmentation, really understanding the (inaudible) who we need to move for what action. And that has been enhanced with a lot of data, targeted messaging, and then finally better candidate recruitment, development, and support. Frankly that’s been a fuller effort and a long time coming. But when we see folks like Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton here, (inaudible) we certainly want to avoid some of the (inaudible) of 2010, 2012.

So that’s where we are today. You all are the investors, and (inaudible) the investors report. Uh, Marc, uh, is the president of Freedom Alliance. He is sort of organizing the effort for this. Uh, (inaudible) to the conference. Uh, many times Freedom Alliance (inaudible) a grant to the various organizations (inaudible) including, uh, certainly what I’m proudest of is Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity has been growing and growing from this seminar, over two million, uh, volunteer activists. Tim Phillips is the president of that. Uh, that’s a key element to this as well. You all take it away and walk (inaudible).

—CUT IN AUDIO—

MARC SHORT: We’re going to walk you through a few things today. Uh, we’re going to walk you through (inaudible) and just because we want to make sure that the investments that you helped make last fall (inaudible) the fall and the winter and really defined (inaudible) we have now. We were the guys complaining and talking about Obamacare in the most critically important races in the country when nobody else (inaudible). And you helped (inaudible). And then what we have for (inaudible) is designed to get (inaudible) come November.

When we met before, we told (inaudible) 2014 we’re going to hold the House and (inaudible) the Senate. At that time, keep in mind after 2012 (inaudible) was a concern that the Administration and the Obama campaign had been invested in minority communities in, in ways, in ways that were being (inaudible) in ways that we were then (inaudible).   What would happen if Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House? What would happen if Pelosi (inaudible) Obama the last two (inaudible)?

[BACKGROUND CONVERSATIONS.] So the first part was to hold the House, and second was (inaudible) the Senate. Keep in mind when we met (inaudible). Democrats would have to have a massive mid-term (inaudible) to keep control of the Senate.

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TIM PHILLIPS: (Inaudible) lessons learned from 2012, uh, was to be passionate about telling stories explaining the impact of these big government policies like Obamacare on the lives of individual Americans. That’s the only way to reach folks that (inaudible) talking about healthcare. (Inaudible) We told affiliates early on there was a statewide drive (inaudible) mother of two facing a life-threatening form of leukemia. She’s on a fixed income. She has insurance. Bu let’s let her tell the story.

(Video presentation.)

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TIM PHILLIPS: So this ad was out statewide, every market across Michigan. But what makes our network unique is that we’re not going to celebrate now. Lots of groups can do that. We have an infrastructure that you have helped fund and build for the last seven and a half years. So while this ad was up, (inaudible) coalition partners were doing town hall meetings, events, and going door to door in targeted neighborhoods with the single message about Obamacare and the impact it has on folks like (inaudible).

I know (inaudible) the liberal Democratic (inaudible) process (inaudible) there was not sympathetic to her. She actually attacked her, calling her a liar, uh, urging and demanding with a cease and desist letter to the station to pull her message, our message off the air. That precipitated a great deal of media coverage, not just across Michigan, but across the country that forced these liberal Democratic senators to, to be held accountable on Obamacare.

MARC SHORT: Let’s talk through a couple other examples of where that could’ve been impactful. Kay Hagan is a first-term senator from North Carolina who was elected in 2008 with a large African-American turnout for President Obama. Uh, she’s not well known (inaudible). When we began the effort to remind North Carolina voters about her record, about her support for Obamacare, her disapproval rating was relatively low. It was 34 percent (inaudible), but it was only 34 percent. After several months of ads that you helped to fund to remind citizens about her record in support of big spending and support of Obamacare, her disapproval rating climbed from 34 percent to where it stands today at 54 percent. Now, that’s not a good place for her to be running for reelection as an incumbent.

Conversely, let’s look at the impact in Louisiana. Mary Landrieu has held office for a couple of terms. Her family has a very well-known name in Louisiana. Um, she has a relatively strong approval rating, and unlike Kay Hagan (inaudible) her disapproval rating was actually (inaudible). There were a few people who’d say “unknown” (inaudible). While a lot of people have said that number is too high (inaudible).

With your help, we were able to focus on, again, her vote for Obamacare and double down (inaudible). She said publicly “if I could vote for it again, I would.” And that (inaudible). So over the course of a couple of months, her approval rating went from 54 percent to 39 percent where it stands now. That’s not a good place to be for a two-term incumbent running for reelection, spending multiple millions of dollars (inaudible) 39 percent because of (inaudible).

So we want you to know that this network has helped to shift the landscape. We’ve given this presentation a couple of times in a couple of small groups, and the feedback that I’m getting is, boy, you’re a Debby Downer, by the time you’re done with this because we’re going to share with you some numbers of why we think it’s a hard lift to get to a majority in the U.S. Senate.

But let me say that where we (inaudible) where we were 15 months ago talking about how we make (inaudible). We’ve made dramatic steps in the last 12 to 15 months in this national area with your help. We’re going to walk you through very carefully how we’re going to make a shift in the Senate races, too. Let’s watch a quick video montage that talks about (inaudible).

—VIDEO PRESENTATION—

“Americans for Prosperity has gone out very early with these very critical ads linking Democrats to Obamacare…

Democrats are increasingly anxious about the onslaught of television ads…

This is a well-done, emotionally effective ad…

That is almost certainly one of the most effective political ads of the cycle so far…

…Republicans get the Senate. They are very worried about a Republican Senate…

Chris Matthews: It’s going to be very hard to hold the Senate. I think the Senate goes, I think (inaudible) from the, the ghost of Christmas future.”

(Laughter.)

MARC SHORT: We have no idea what that means.

(Laughter.)

MARC SHORT: We kept it in because he looked stupid.

(Inaudible) what we said, we are all about taking the Senate (inaudible). We now believe that our efforts should be tied to (inaudible), not just to maintain, but to (inaudible). Here’s a word of caution. Since 1982, 87 percent of Senate incumbents were re-elected. When you’re a senator for six years, you’re able to raise money for six full years. You build up a war chest. You often (inaudible). And 2010 we know was a landslide year. We talked about 60-some, uh, House members who were defeated. It’s different (inaudible).

In 2010, (inaudible) the House, 21 out of 23 senators, incumbent senators were re-elected. Twenty-one out of 23 in that same year. So to get a net in the U.S. Senate is not an easy path. It’s going to be a very hard path (inaudible). The way we look at it is there’s nine very competitive races, and of those, seven are held by incumbents. Nine (inaudible) seven are held by incumbents (inaudible). So there’s (inaudible) the landscape.

Let’s, um, assess the status right now of where our priorities lie legitimately in going to the House. There are 435 seats up, naturally, in the House. Of those, we believe there are 175 that are safe for Democrats. These are not places where we could make good use of our seminar resources to invest. We believe that of those 175, we are not investing there, so let’s go ahead and take those off the map. Likewise, we believe that there are 210 seats that are safe for Republicans. Those are not good uses of our resources, so we as well are going to take those off the map.

So that leaves us with roughly 48 seats where we have been invested over the course of the last several months (inaudible) where we are really focused on that operation if we need it. Of those 48, we narrowed it down a little bit further. That’s because of how (inaudible). These 16 in some of these states (inaudible) champion of liberty, we want to make sure is defended. Four is the House seats that overlap in the Senate (inaudible) 2016 and 2020, and it’s critical that our organization continues building infrastructure in those states. So having races there (inaudible) as well.

Now let’s talk about the process of flipping the Senate. There are 36 seats up for election this cycle. Of those, again we walk the same path here. Seven we believe are safely for Democrats, so we can take those off the map. Twelve we believe are safely for Republicans. Now, some of you are really quick (inaudible). Some of those red states have two senators running at the same time, so two seats are up. So that leaves us with seven — with, um, 12 seats (inaudible), along with seven states Democratic. We’ll take those off the map. And what we have left are 17 seats where we’re spending the majority of our resources.

(Inaudible) focused on. In the Senate, of the 36, there are 17 seats needed, so let’s break down the 17 in here. There are two that we feel — we’re confident are going to flip, South Dakota and West Virginia. Those are two places where you have senators retiring (inaudible). So we have not invested (inaudible) resources there. The exception is West Virginia’s 3rd. We think we can create (inaudible) new opportunities (inaudible). For the Senate side, we have not invested resources, and we hope that we won’t have to. So let’s shift to Montana. Tim, you want to (inaudible)?

TIM PHILLIPS: Montana has Congressman Steve Daines, a pretty good free market — actually a very good free market businessman in the House in his first term. He’s running for the United States Senate this year. Uh, he’s a good candidate, good on the issues especially, and he’s actually been a participant or a guest here at these seminars in the past to give you a feel for how similar our views are.

It’s a good state. It’s a red state, moving more so. But in the past, we’ve had Libertarians in the state, so we’ve worked hard in the north and northwest part of the state, kind of the Thompson Falls, Troy, Kalispell part of the state.

We’ve identified a few other (inaudible) here to build up an understanding of just how free market Congressman Daines has been, and how, frankly, good a senator he would be. Uh, at this point, we’ve spent about $700,000 on the airwaves there along with a pretty good, strong field operation across Montana as well. And we’re now pretty confident that Montana is going to go the right way in the Senate.

MARC SHORT: So if we were to move Montana over with South Dakota, West Virginia, (inaudible) the most competitive (inaudible). Why don’t you start with North Carolina?

TIM PHILLIPS: Absolutely. Kay Hagan, uh, Marc mentioned her just a minute ago. She’s the freshman incumbent Democrat running for reelection. She got elected in 2008 with a good, strong Obama wind at her back. It was a very close race. Her polling average is pretty much steady in the low forties. If you’re an incumbent and you’re in the low forties, that’s a flashing red light danger zone for her.

Uh, the Republican nominee was just chosen without a runoff, Speaker Thom Tillis. That’s very good for him. While this race is a toss-up region, we think it offers the best opportunity. I can tell you this. This seminar effort began investing, you — many of you — began investing in North Carolina a decade ago. This was a charter state AFP chapter along with Kansas and Texas, and so we have a deep network there.

I was actually in Raleigh, North Carolina this time last Monday. And at 1:00 p.m. in the Raleigh area, which is not our strong area, we had two dozen activists and field staff out doing phone banks, and then following up with door to door. That’s a lot of folks in a tough part of the state on a Monday, and we think this offers a good opportunity.

One thing you’re going to notice on a couple of the slides, you’ll see the new activists. Those are new AFP-recruited activists, Facebook fans, and then the events. We put those up there because they’re just a healthy way to measure progress in the state. It shows the vitality and the strength or lack thereof. And so it’s one way that Teresa Oelke, whom we heard from yesterday. And the rest of the AFP, AFP team measure, uh, the progress of these grassroots activists on the ground.

MARC SHORT: (Inaudible) these states walk through those we think are the most likely to flip to the least likely. So we’re pretty confident about North Carolina. We know that number is 42, 43, and we think that North Carolina is super dynamic in 2014 (inaudible) in 2008.

The next (inaudible) Louisiana is a state with (inaudible) a long-time incumbent, a well-known name, a lot of (inaudible) pushed this off because they’re friends with her for a long time. As I said, we gave last fall and winter (inaudible) and now it’s one of those competitive states. This is a place where unfortunately many of the oil and gas industry has supported Mary Landrieu because she’s chairman of the Energy Committee.

Nonetheless, we think that this is a (inaudible) state if we focus on Obamacare. Bill Cassidy is a doctor. His wife (inaudible) president at LSU (inaudible). She put his campaign together (inaudible) everybody runs on the ballot in November. The top two, if nobody gets above 50, run December 6th. We think there’s a very strong possibility December 6th that (inaudible) on the ballot for the United States Senate. If that’s the case, it probably will remain purple (inaudible). That’s a good thing. But it’s likely that neither of the candidates are above 50 in November.

TIM PHILLIPS: One thing that Congressman Cassidy is challenging (inaudible) is he’s in the Baton Rouge part of the state, and New Orleans is the largest single population center. Uh, Landrieu has always run well in the north New Orleans suburbs, and so it’s a big challenge for him. I know a lot of our effort is to make sure that folks in those suburbs who maybe like her are just reminded of her voting record on Obamacare, how on energy, while she talks a good talk, she’s not doing anything. She can’t even get a Keystone vote to get that pipeline built. She did nothing to stop — to stop the new EPA regs that the President just announced last week.

And so that’s kind of a key battleground in the state. I would (inaudible) maximizing energy up there. And I think that’s really the time. Now, I’m a southerner. I should know this, but it is hot and humid in Louisiana.

(Laughter.)

TIM PHILLIPS: It’s like walking on a (inaudible) and I made the cardinal error. And so when you guys are all (inaudible) Louisiana, to go door-to-door with us in the fall, where all of you will be, you all never say to a Louisiana person, “Whew, it’s really hot, huh?” Because inevitably they say, oh, it’s not even summer, making fun of you. It’s terrible (inaudible).

I want you to meet one person. This is Charlene. Uh, as we were going out door-to-door in Baton Rouge, I noticed her off to one side. So I walked over to say hello to her. She’s one of our grassroots activists. She’s 82 years old — 82. She looks great. And she wasn’t going door-to-door. And I said, “What are you doing?” And she said, “Well, I’m using the phone system” — I could see that she had a phone in her hand there and a little iPad (inaudible) – “and I’m making calls. And I’m going to make a thousand calls before November to let folks know about Senator Landrieu’s vote on Obamacare because this fall really scares me.”

So you see that yellow legal pad, just above it there? I looked down and there were little marks on there. And I said, “What is this, Charlene?” She goes, “I’m up to 128 calls, and I mark each one.” And I looked closer. And on some of them there were smiley faces and on other ones there were frowns. And I said, “Charlene, I got to ask, what’s the frowny?” She goes, “Well, when they really don’t like the Obamacare vote, I put a smiley face right there.”

(Laughter.)

TIM PHILLIPS: So those are the kinds of folks that change the (inaudible) working on the phone.

The next state is Arkansas. Um, Tom Cotton is here. You know there are times when — I’m sorry. The next state is, it’s Arkansas. There are times when the candidate is running, and frankly, it’s just someone that, you know that there’s no better alternative, right? That’s not the case in Arkansas. Tom Cotton is a champion. I’m going tell you one thing about him. Let me (inaudible). He has a 100 percent AFP voting record — 100 percent. We give a tough, tough ranking. We really — our board, we really make it tough. This guy is running for the Senate actually voting with 61 Republicans in the House to vote against the farm bill in Arkansas.

(Applause.)

TIM PHILLIPS: (Inaudible) crony capitalism or crony government in that farm bill, also the food stamp explosion as well. He did that knowing that he was in a tough race.

Two things about Arkansas that make this race a real battleground. One is the average age of voters in the state is high, and so they respond well to ‘Mediscare’ and the social security attack, and they’re doing that on Tom aggressively.

And then secondly, we mentioned Kay Hagan in North Carolina. You know, she’s not well established. She’s a one-term senator in a big state, doesn’t have a strong profile. Senator Pryor does. His father was a senator and a governor of the state. You combine that with the fact that Arkansas doesn’t tend to be as trending for blue now, and the average age of the voters is older there. They’ve been voting in some cases for a Pryor now for 20 or 50 years.

So this is not an easy race, but we’ve got a genuine economic freedom champion in Tom Cotton (inaudible) here. You heard from Teresa Oelke yesterday. She and her brother Ivan, five years ago were sitting in a room like this at a seminar. And they said, “You know what? We’ve got to step up and start a chapter in our home state.” And they did. And Teresa actually left the family construction business and went in to work full time, and today she’s the vice president running all the states for us. (Inaudible) like so many others. And so this is one of our best grassroots chapters across the country.

MARC SHORT: One other point I’ll make to you on this slide is you’ll see the polling average numbers up there. Um, Tom is here this weekend, and I know he shared with many of you the new poll (inaudible). The discrepancy here is in (inaudible) polling was bad. It was across the Republican landscape. Everybody’s polling was off. (Inaudible) how to do polling better.

What we’re doing now is just like Obama’s team in how we take care of data operations. This is (inaudible) is poll registered voters to likely voters. (Inaudible). The registered voters say you can’t (inaudible). The likely can’t say, “Who cares if you’re registered? It doesn’t mean you’re going to vote.” You should ask them to actually like your (inaudible) more than turnout.

What we’re trying to do now is to shift our model. Where we’re going into modeling is how likely somebody is to turn out based on their past track record in mid-term elections. And so, what we have with public polls (inaudible) in Arkansas as Tom has. But what we’ve seen is a continued trend is in, in the parts of the state who still don’t know Tom well, basically the northeast parts. As he gets more and more well known, that gap is going to be shrinking (inaudible).

MARC SHORT: [TYPING IN THE BACKGROUND.] The next up is Alaska. Alaska (inaudible). It’s a state that is very Republican. It’s a state that (inaudible), and we think this is going to be (inaudible). Of all the Democrats running right now, Mark Begich is (inaudible).

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TIM PHILLIPS: Well, Marc, we are just hiring Americans for Prosperity staff in Alaska. We have a long way to go. You know, peninsular states, whatever you do now or whatever (inaudible) the lower 48 (inaudible) Alaska. So this is an uphill state, even though it is still red.

And it points out that (inaudible) the success of the model that you helped build because we don’t have anything. And so what should be more of a, a (inaudible) we don’t have the infrastructure like we do in Arkansas, or North Carolina, or Louisiana.

Next up is Iowa. This is the one that six or eight months ago was not even on the list, no, no doubt about that. But the Obamacare issue in this seminar (inaudible) early investment to hold new senators and liberal Democrats accountable on Obamacare paid big dividends. Joni Ernst has been here this weekend.

As many of you may remember, she was here a year ago when she was polled in the single digits in the primary. And while (inaudible) primaries in general, Iowa is one where (inaudible) in our network (inaudible) just a couple of weeks ago is now the nominee and has put this race in play (inaudible). This is a little ad you may have heard about that kind of helped put her on the map.

(Video presentation of Ernst’s “Squeal” campaign ad.)

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TIM PHILLIPS: I know this is probably a redundant statement, but Bruce Braley is about the most arrogant trial lawyer you can imagine, and he’s the nominee. To get a sense of the kind of candidate he is (inaudible). He went to Texas recently to speak to a group of trial lawyers, and while there was a video camera openly rolling right in front of him — it wasn’t hidden — he actually said the following, “If Republicans take the Senate, a farmer from Iowa will be the new Judiciary chairman.” Now, the person he was talking about is the iconic Republican senator who represents Iowa right now, Charles Grassley. He actually said that. So we have an ad out right now across the state with his own words demeaning the senator who’s in there right now who happens to be an Iowa farmer.

And this race is, is absolutely in play, even though when you look at the cash on hand, there’s a massive discrepancy with Joni. She’s got a long way to go. This is a tough state. Obama carried this state twice. I will say the Americans for Prosperity state director there, Mark Lucas, is a combat veteran of Afghanistan, so our AFP operations run with military precision when you’re in Iowa (inaudible).

MARC SHORT: Moving onto Colorado. Cory Gardner is with us here this weekend. He has really solidified the Republican field. Other candidates got out; he got in. He has been a champion of freedom. Colorado was not on our list a year ago. But a lot has changed in Colorado (inaudible) to the left (inaudible) such as the tragedy in Colorado. (Inaudible) Second Amendment issue. So we think that Colorado is actually in play, and we’re excited about Cory’s candidacy.

TIM PHILLIPS: You know, one thing to note, Cory Gardner’s district is the far eastern rural part of the state. He is not well known in the Denver market. And a lot of these races are about making sure that you’re holding accountable the Democrats that voted for Obamacare, energy, et cetera.

This is one state, though, we think where Cory Gardner has got to get out and tell his message in Denver. Already the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, the environmental extremists are pouring millions into the Denver market to make him out to be some kind of radical extremist. They’re also doing that — attempting to do that on social issues as well.

So we have a big task ahead of us. This seminar effort with Concerned Veterans of America, Generation Opportunity, and AFP has a good, strong ground game in the Denver area. But this is a big fight to make sure they don’t define Gardner — he’s a good guy, a free market guy; his voting record is great in the House — make sure they don’t define him as some extremist, because he’s not.

MARC SHORT: Michigan is a state that’s basically an uphill climb honestly. Phil Cox will join us in a minute to talk about the governor’s race (inaudible). So this is — this is more of a great view from one of the far-left members of the House. A lot of the ad campaigns (inaudible) doing from the very beginning feature Obamacare victims who talk about the loss of insurance and that had a big impact with (inaudible). But ultimately this is going to be an uphill climb.

Last on this list is (inaudible) New Hampshire. New Hampshire is on the list principally because Jeanne Shaheen is a well-liked Democrat senator. She’s somebody who was elected to the legislature. She’s been elected governor. She’s been elected to the United States Senate. Her approval rating is very high.

The reason she’s on the list is because there have been few states that were more negatively impacted by Obamacare than New Hampshire. Of 26 hospitals in the state, 10 have been excluded from coverage under Obamacare, which means that patients who need to go to their local hospitals, are now having to drive 40 to 60 miles to get their care. We don’t know — there’s no doubt New Hampshire is more vulnerable, but what’s going to be important is how Obamacare (inaudible). When insurance rates are re-established in September, October, does that become the (inaudible) to win? (Inaudible) answer, then we’ve got a chance.

TIM PHILLIPS: This is the new AFP ad that’s on the airwaves right now holding her accountable, and it’s, it’s –- you know, in most states it’s about losing health insurance. But in New Hampshire, as Marc mentioned, it’s about far more. It’s about hospitals that are being excluded from Obamacare (inaudible). This ad hopefully tells that story.

(Video presentation.)

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TIM PHILLIPS: Here’s what’s exciting about this network that you’re building. Again, TV ads are good. They’re important. They’re easy to show. But they don’t get the job done by themselves. There’s no question about that. This seminar network, though, has invested in New Hampshire for eight years now. Eight years. We’ve had staff on the ground. We’ve had folks building relationships, and recruiting activists, and building credibility with local media across that state.

And so when an ad like this goes up, there’s a network in place, an infrastructure that we go out and echo the message that’s on the airwaves via town hall meetings, and local events, and door-to-door efforts, and phone efforts.

And even the literature in New Hampshire on Senator Shaheen, it echoes, and looks similar, and it certainly has the same message of this TV ad. So, we show these TV ads because they’re the easiest thing to show perhaps, but it’s so important to what makes this network unique across the country on our side is we have that infrastructure that’s been painstakingly built for the long term. And everything we’re doing this year builds toward the long-term plan, the long-term policy successes that yesterday our team talked so much about.

MARC SHORT: So just to summarize this section of the presentation, there are in the Senate 17 seats. We now have moved Montana into a more competitive state. That might be a little optimistic at this point. But if you put that aside, we have West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, we’re halfway there to six. We have six. But that assumes that there is no Republican loss this cycle, and that’s a big accomplishment. So in Kentucky, Senator McConnell has been here with us this weekend. Since he’s prevailed in his primary, it appears that the party is rallying back behind his candidacy, and we think that this is a race where he can win.

Georgia is one, that frankly, when I, when we met last time, I was more pessimistic. And I shared with you my thought that all five Republican candidates were poor candidates (inaudible). I think that it’s changed a little bit. Obama’s numbers have created (inaudible) an inferior candidate there. And I, I think that there’s a runoff on July 22nd, and there probably will be an inferior candidate, but I think that (inaudible) so Republicans can win and that would (inaudible).

Mississippi is represented by Thad Cochran. Thad Cochran has been in the United States Senate for 36 years. Before that he was in the House for four years. He has represented Mississippi for 40 years. If after 40 years you can’t convince the majority of your own party that (inaudible) primary, I think the prospects of you winning your runoff (inaudible) are pretty slim. (Inaudible) the nominee is.

And the challenge is, you know, for me is like Christine O’Donnell’s story in 2010 or looking at the Todd Akin story in 2012, and the level of scrutiny that people face is extremely intense. And although Mississippi remains Republican, the challenge will be (inaudible) that level of scrutiny (inaudible) over into any other state (inaudible) people in very competitive races (inaudible). We think McDaniel will win next Tuesday, and we’ll have to see what happens beyond that in the Republican space.

TIM PHILLIPS: There are three states further on the watch list. The seminar network is not spending money right now on these states, but they’re Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia. Minnesota, everyone’s favorite comedian, Al Franken. Uh, he, against all expectations, actually has kept his head down and not made stupid comments, and has been in decent shape in a relatively blue state.

It’s important to note that Obama got about just over 51 percent in Minnesota in 2012, so we do have an eye on that. Uh, McFadden is a businessman running on the Republican side who was actually a guest a year ago at the seminar. Uh, he is a good candidate.

Oregon. Uh, Dr. Monica Wehby is running a strong campaign so far. It’s a tough blue state, although it’s absolutely there keeping an eye on.

And then the third state is Virginia, uh, where Sen. Mark Warner, a liberal Democrat, is running for re-election (inaudible). Ed Gillespie got in. He’s running a very strong campaign. Uh, and it’s important to note that in Minnesota and Virginia, uh this seminar network has built an infrastructure over the last several years. In fact, Virginia is a key state for us.

—CUT IN AUDIO—

(END OF TIM PHILLIPS REMARKS.)

 

U.S. Senate Candidates Praise Koch Network

AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.

AFTERNOON MEETING:

SENATE CANDIDATES PANEL

FEATURING

TOM COTTON, JONI ERNST, AND CORY GARDNER

MODERATED BY

JEFF CRANK

 

June 16, 2014

 

P R O C E E D I N G S

JEFF CRANK: Doug Ducey is a great leader, and, uh, we’ve got — we’re joined right now by a few other great leaders, uh, in, in our states in the case of Joni Ernst, and in Washington, D.C. in the case of Congressmen Tom Cotton and Cory Gardner.

I want to quickly introduce our panelists. Congressman Tom Cotton is a U.S. Army veteran who served both in Iraq and Afghanistan. He graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law, and he also happens to be a candidate for U.S. Senate in Arkansas. Tom, thanks for joining us.

Uh, Joni Ernst is a state senator, and she’s a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. She served in Iraq. Uh, she’s a candidate for U.S. Senate from Iowa. And incidentally I guess I just (inaudible), but apparently you can castrate a hog.

(Laughter.)

(Applause.)

JEFF CRANK: You don’t normally use that in an introduction, but it was appropriate here. And Congressman Cory Gardner, uh, is a long-time friend of mine, representing Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. He serves on the House Commerce Committee. He’s been a leader really on free market, uh, energy issues, and he’s also a candidate for the United States Senate. Thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.

(Applause.)

JEFF CRANK: All right. So I’m going to start with you, Tom. This is a pretty tough group of investors that we have here, so –

TOM COTTON: Naturally.

JEFF CRANK: So, naturally I’m going to ask some tough questions. I’ll start by playing devil’s advocate — you know we have a range of donors here. Some are the sort of traditional Republican donors who give money to those sorts of causes, and others are more purist Libertarians, uh, who question really the efficacy of getting involved in politics. And many, quite frankly, feel burned by supporting Republicans in the past.

So, Tom, what would you say to those who are skeptical? Uh, why is having a majority of Republicans in the Senate so important for saving the country, and what difference can you possibly make with a big government threat to our democracy?

TOM COTTON: Jeff, thanks for having me, and thanks for asking the tough questions. Uh, I’ll, I’ll just take them, take them in turn. Um, I, I think a lot of you are right to feel burned after the performance of Republican candidates around the country over the last two election cycles. When I was in the Army, uh, I spent about a year and a half at Arlington National Cemetery (inaudible) tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and my soldiers always wanted to go to the weight room in the morning, uh, and I always wanted them to go running (inaudible). And I’d tell them, I said it’s, it’s not about (inaudible), it’s about torque. They want to go and do like bicep curls, bench presses so they can impress women on the weekends (inaudible). Uh, and I would try to tell them (inaudible). I had to run a lot (inaudible), but I never got attacked by an armed bench press.

(Laughter.)

TOM COTTON: Now, there are a lot of candidates — there are a lot of candidates that look great on paper. Uh, they appear to look great, but they just don’t perform. I think that’s different this year, though, and I think we’ve got some evidence on this stage. Joni and I met in Albuquerque at the conference last August. I was just a couple days away from declaring my campaign.

—CUT IN AUDIO—

TOM COTTON: They claim that the House Republicans are the party of no. The problem is with the House, they’ve got a fever. If, if we win six, or I hope seven, eight, nine Senate seats, in a smash victory, the kind the Democrats had in 2006, how can the President legitimately claim anymore that the problem is in the Congress? What he’s really saying is the problem is the people who elected that Congress and that Senate. It’s the American people who have let him down and who’ve (inaudible). That’s not going to sell with this electorate.

JEFF CRANK: As Marc and Tim showed earlier, you’ve seen a pretty dramatic shift in the 2014 political landscape. I think it’s fair to say you’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations, really going from a little-known, uh, person with little, uh, name recognition to winning your primary by a landslide. I was hoping you’d cross 35 percent on election night, and you ended up getting 58 percent, 56. So what’s the public at right now? How did you capitalize on that with the campaign across the state?

JONI ERNST: Well, first, I want to take a quick time out. And you’re absolutely correct, that um, as Tom mentioned earlier, the, the first time I was introduced to this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico, and I was not known at that time. A little known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, uh, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory. And it started a very strong victory that we’ve progressive, progressively built upon throughout the campaign cycle.

So really, the folks in this room that got my start, so having folks that, that backed me in this election cycle and primary. It was a five-way primary, a very tough cycle. I was (inaudible) initially and was outspent uh, by millions of dollars in the primary. But we were able to capitalize on my strong record in the state senate, um, rolling back taxes in the State of Iowa, removing, uh, burdensome rules and regulations, and doing the right thing for the Iowa people.

And something also that has been talked about a lot in a number of these sessions so far, and Mr. Murray talked about it last night, too, was the fact that I remain connected to my community and that strong sense of community, making sure that you (inaudible) know that you truly do care about them and what we believe is successful in the United States of America, being able to convey that to those people.

Um, relaying the message to the community, showing that we care is extremely important, so we, we show that. Um, I was able to show that across the state of Iowa. And it was a steady climb then, and we had a great victory, five-way primary, 56 percent of the vote. And we’ve been able to push that on now into the general election cycle, again by showing that I care about the people of Iowa, that our free market principles are really very successful in the State of Iowa.

Iowa is one of the best (inaudible) states in the United States, and I’m fortunate to have been a part of that. So we are using that to our advantage. And there have been three public polls released since the primary two weeks ago, and in all three of those polls, I am leading my Democratic opponent anywhere from one to six points. So we have a great (inaudible).

(Applause.)

JONI ERNST: So it, it really goes back to Iowa common sense, Iowa values. That’s something that I talk about a lot. And many of you are familiar with Bruce Braley and the fact that he was tearing down farmers in the State of Iowa. During the government shutdown in October, the greatest concern he had was the fact that he had do his own laundry. The House wasn’t providing clean towels in the gymnasium any longer.

So we are showing that this a gentleman who is so disconnected from Iowa values, and here’s a small-town Iowa farm girl who had to work for everything that she has achieved. We are going to paint some very clear differences in this general election. And this is the thing that we are going to take back, that it started right here with all of your folks, this wonderful network, and we’re going to continue that on through the general election. So thank, thank you so much for having me today.

(Applause.)

JEFF CRANK: Now, this morning we heard from a lot of different presentations the opposition is throwing everything they have at holding on to the Senate. I think a lot of candidates are facing funding (inaudible). But how are third party groups in this network, particularly that are focused on issue (inaudible) and out mobilizing, mobilizing voters, how are they making a, a, a big difference? And uh, you know, cite some examples of that.

CORY GARDNER: Absolutely, Jeff. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be with you this morning and today. And it’s always great as a Colorado guy to come to California because you get to drive down the street and see the names of businesses that will soon be moving to Colorado.

(Laughter.)

CORY GARDNER: Recruiting while we’re here. But there were two people who were really excited when I announced for United States Senate. The first one was the station manager at Channel 9 in Denver because he knew the activity that would be taking place on the airwaves. The second one was somebody right on stage with us, Tom Cotton, because he knew some of the air war would be moving into Colorado, and I think that’s where, where I want to start.

When you look at this race and how the races around the country have evolved over the past year, it started out with six seats that we need to take in the United States Senate to regain the majority. And we have six competitive races (inaudible) we have to win every single race to retake the majority.

And thanks to people like Joni, thanks to people like Tom and people around the country who have stood up, uh, to run for the Senate, now all of a sudden you’re looking at 12, 13 competitive Senate races, who broaden the playing field, who give us a greater chance to win, who allow us to move back and forth and to target more seats, and being more effective in our strategy and how we place resources. And that’s where it comes down to the third party difference.

Look, there was an article in the paper this morning about the amount of money that has been spent in total across the country. And you’re looking at some of the three races that have the highest amounts of dollars that have been spent, I believe. And, Joni, I don’t remember if it was in your race or not, but I know Tom and I have been outspent by Democrats on third party efforts.

And they know, though, that they do it because it is the direction of this country, you know, the stakes — who will define the American Dream. That’s why they have engaged at the level that they have. The outside groups who are the ones who try to scare people in Colorado from voting for a Republican candidate, like they tried to four years ago and were successful four years ago in the race.

They are going to continue to go around in this country running October-style campaign ads in May, June, July, and August. In my race alone, they have already dumped about 5,000 points, TV points, against me in negative advertising. And do you know what? They haven’t moved the numbers a bit. And that’s because the people of Colorado understand our ability in the State of Colorado to change the direction of this country.

Now, the third party groups are also very active on the ground. I think you asked for specific examples. Let me just give you a, a, a snapshot of Colorado. In a midterm election, we know the electorate of Colorado is, is very conducive to Republican success. You know, this is the state that Barack Obama wo-, won in 2008, won again in 2012. He accepted the Democratic nomination at Mile High Stadium in 2008. Remember the Roman columns behind the president? In fact, I made the comment the other day years from now the only thing they might discover about the legacy of the Obama Administration will be an archaeological dig in Denver where they find the Roman columns.

(Laughter.)

Um, but the, the — if you look at the state, though, we know that in off-year elections, it is — it is much different. Because of that, the third parties have mobilized to a degree that we haven’t seen because they are trying to replace the, the mobilization effort of 2012, the President’s get-out-the-vote effort, their voter turnout effort. So just looking at Colorado over the past month, you’ve seen announcements from Tom Steyer’s group who will be doing the ground game and TV advertisements in Colorado.

Now, Mark Udall is somebody who voted with the President 99 percent of the time, and he’s being rewarded for his loyalty. We’ve seen Mayor Michael Bloomberg come into Colorado and open up offices in Colorado. As you know, Jeff, Michael Bloomberg’s success rate in Colorado hasn’t exactly been, been stellar. So because of him, like I said, you know we’ve seen the Gabby Giffords anti-gun movement is going to come in to Colorado to spend money. The League of Conservation Voter Action group is going to come in and organize the ground game in Colorado. We’ve seen the Climate Action folks come in to Colorado and organize because they know the threat that we pose. The road to the glory travels directly through Colorado. If we win Colorado, we win 51, 52, 53 seats, and that’s how we change the course of this country.

Now I’m going to — so the, the third party efforts know that is what it’s going to take to win Colorado. We’ll raise somewhere between $10 and $12 million in my campaign. The — my opposition is going to raise somewhere between $15 and $20 million. But just the other day I heard the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee telling a reporter that they believe the race for Colorado will cost $75 million dollars in total. So that’s the gap we need to make up by, by people from different parts of the country (inaudible).

And last night — incredible opportunity hearing Charles Murray talk about something Alexis Tocqueville said. And I (Inaudible) Alexis Tocqueville, but he talks about the exceptionalism of America, where he says — he said the reason why Europe — the world powers of the time (inaudible) United States wondered how we became who we are, it was because they noticed the notion within every single one of us in this country hasn’t (inaudible). It hasn’t (inaudible) well in every American (inaudible).

—CUT IN AUDIO—

JEFF CRANK: We’ve talked a lot about, and I guess this is really for everybody, and we’ll go quickly so we can leave some time for audience questions. But we talk a lot about 2014. 2014 is important. But the long-term is important, too. And what can this network be doing really to focus on the success beyond 2014? Uh, who are the voters? What are the issues? And really what (inaudible)?

TOM COTTON: (Inaudible). But in the long term support to build communities (inaudible) shared concerns. Uh, we’ve been doing it in (inaudible). Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas has played a critical role in turning our state from a one party Democratic state (inaudible) building the kind of constant engagement to get people in the state involved in their communities. That people who were not involved became voters in 2010, and became activists in 2012, and now they’re running for the county commission, or the state house, or the state senate. It’s that kind of sustained, continuous organization that third party groups really can help, uh, promote because they have a life beyond this election cycle, whereas Cotton for Senate, or Ernst for Senate, or Gardner for Senate is focused on that one day sale on November 4th.

And you, you see the success in Arkansas where we’ve gone from a one party Democratic state in just five years to a Republican Party state.

JEFF CRANK: Joni?

JONI ERNST: Absolutely. And in a state like Iowa, if I can use Iowa as a specific example of the long term, right now we have a Republican senator and a Democratic senator. And with the Democratic senator retiring, the opportunity to replace him with, with another Republican senator. We are setting the stage for Iowa as the first in the Nation’s caucus that all of our presidential hopefuls come, come to. We’re setting the stage in 2014 with a Republican victory, so that likelihood is in 2016 we can, uh, go red as a state and assist any Republican nominee from Iowa.

So we’re setting the stage for the presidency. So as we look long term, we can’t disengage in any of the state. We have to stay active. If (inaudible) for victory at many different levels. So I would encourage everybody simply to stay engaged.

JEFF CRANK: I want to — want to leave enough time for questions. Cory, you’re not in the Senate yet. You have one minute.

(Laughter.)

CORY GARDNER: Just taking a look at Colorado, in 2014, if we win Colorado, we overturn the narrative the Democrats are trying build about the interior Rocky Mountain states, that you can’t win statewide in the Rocky Mountain West anymore. We can defeat that notion. We can flip it upside down in Colorado by winning in 2014, making the pathway for whoever our nominee is in 2016.

We can win Colorado. We can win Arizona. We can win New Mexico. The Rocky Mountain states, they’re not blue. We can win. We just have to have the right message, the right candidates to make sure that we’re (inaudible).

JEFF CRANK: Great, great. Well, let’s open it up, Kevin.

KEVIN GENTRY: We have time for a couple questions. We’ll start right over here. That’s it, come up on the side. Please introduce yourself.

SPEAKER: Mark Stern. Um, what, what are the implications, to the gentlemen in the House, of Eric Cantor’s defeat, um, and what are the implications, um, short term, long term?

CORY GARDNER: Well, I think if you’re an incumbent member of the United States Senate or the United States Hou- House, you better not take anything for granted. You better be home. You better be doing your work. And I think what it says to my challenger, he can’t look at as if he’s a better candidate. He better look at it as a defeat as an incumbent.

And so, if I were Mark Udall, I’d be very afraid of what (inaudible) and said about long-term established legacy names in United States politics.

TOM COTTON: Yeah, I, I would say that as well. I mean, as I mentioned (inaudible) a year there wasn’t a Pryor on the ballot during August in Arkansas. Uh, so Mark Pryor is clearly the face of Washington and Arkansas (inaudible) also in Congress. I’ve only been there for 18 months, however.

And I think that’s the, the major reason that Eric lost that race is as the Majority Leader, um, of our party, he was known as the face of Washington, and the voters clearly (inaudible). The specific issue that came up, that boiled to a head during his race was immigration, and he endorsed immigration principles and supported a version of amnesty. And we have the immigration crisis on the border because of the President’s administrative actions. And candidates like Mark Udall and uh, Mark Pryor voted for the Senate (inaudible) immigration bill. And I think that’s going to come back to haunt them as well.

KEVIN GENTRY: One more? All right. Well, thank you all very much.

(END OF PANEL.)

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Mitch McConnell at the Koch Brothers Donor Summit

AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.

 

AFTERNOON SESSION

June 15, 2014

 

SPEAKERS:

KEVIN GENTRY, EMCEE

MARK HOLDEN, GENERAL COUNSEL – KOCH INDUSTRIES,

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL

“Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights”

 

P R O C E E D I N G S

KEVIN GENTRY: All right. So to round out this afternoon, I have Mark Holden, who is the General Counsel of Koch Industries. He presented to us last time on a lot of the threats we’re facing from this Administration, government over, over-reach, the IRS, and uh, this deals with, uh, First Amendment rights. So, Mark, take it away.

MARK HOLDEN: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Father’s Day. Um, it is my privilege to introduce our next speaker, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Senator McConnell is the Senate Republican Leader. He was elected to that position when (inaudible) in 2006. He’s the 15th Senate Republican Leader and only the second Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate.

Senator McConnell is married to Elaine Chao, who was Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, and the former Director of the United Way of America, excuse me, former president of the United Way of America, and a director of the Peace Corps. They are proud parents of three daughters.

Senator McConnell is here to speak today on free speech, defending First Amendment rights. And that would be indeed appropriate because Senator McConnell is a warrior on choice, First Amendment rights, and the Senate code since the 1970s. He is tireless in his opposition to the efforts to assail First Amendment rights by the Obama Administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — hopefully he has the job title come next year — the Democratic Party, and (inaudible). He’s so good he has repeatedly called out the progressives and the typical tactics of (inaudible).

For example, he warned of the tactic of the Administration and their allies targeting political opponents long before the IRS scandal broke last year. In 2012, Senator McConnell referred to reported instances of targeting the Tea Party (inaudible) citizens’ rights to free speech and free association were “under serious threat, not only from some left-wing groups, which have resorted to intimidation to grind their critics into submission, but by an Administration that has used the tools of government to do the same. These things are not only unbecoming of a sitting President, they threaten the very character of our Nation. That’s why it’s time for Americans to recognize this threat for what it is, unite around the First Amendment, and fight back.”

His strong leadership was also on display a few weeks ago during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the (inaudible) outrage — unprecedented, unprecedented amendment to amend the First Amendment which would have effectively removed (inaudible) political speech and allowed the government to regulate what (inaudible) say in the political sphere. As Senator McConnell so aptly put it this afternoon, “When it comes to free speech, we shouldn’t substitute the incumbent-protection desires of politicians for the protection of the Constitution guaranteed to all Americans.”

Ladies and gentlemen, please extend a warm welcome to Senator Mitch McConnell.

(Applause.)

MITCH MCCONNELL: Is this working? I know it’s been a long, but very inspiring day. And I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you, and um, and I want (inaudible) for rallying, uh, to the cause.

What I’m going to do — we’re at the end of the day here. I hope this won’t be just a monologue, and if you’re interested in interjecting, please feel free.

So what I’m talking about with you today is the one freedom, that without which we can’t do anything. Without which we can’t do anything. (Inaudible) take you back to the 70s. I was a very bored lawyer, a young lawyer out of law school (inaudible) at least one course for the first time at the University of Louisville, and it was called Political Parties and Elections. And it just happened to be about the time of the Watergate scandal.

And um, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, we had the first really seriously comprehensive “campaign finance reform bill.” It was just one effort by the political left going back to the beginning of the 20th century to get a hold of the process by which one gets elected.

And then it sort of petered out at the end of the progressive era in the 20s, the great prosperity. No one was thinking about things like that, and then the President ended the war. But then when Watergate came along, the left realized this was an opportunity to get their hands on the electoral process; in other words, to try to control the process by which you get into government, the feeling being if you control the process by which you got into government, the kind of people who got elected would be only beholden to the government.

William F. Buckley’s brother, Jim Buckley, was serving (inaudible) only one term. It was a bit of an accident when he got elected in 1970 to the Senate in New York on the conservative ticket. It was a three-way race. And Jim Buckley, and coming from good stock, decided to file a lawsuit and the famous case decided in early 1976 was Buckley v. Valeo.

The decision was a bit of a mixed bag, but I thought the most important decision — that the most important part of the decision, which was really (inaudible), was the Court said it was impermissible for the government to silence the voices of some Americans in order to try to enhance the voices of others under the First Amendment. If you think about it, if the government can pick the winners and losers in political speech, whoever’s running the government at that particular time has an extraordinary advantage.

The other aspects of the decision were somewhat questionable, but that core ruling was that it was impermissible under the First Amendment for the government to quiet the voices of some in order to enhance the voices of others. Well, the left didn’t like that suit very much. They liked parts of it, but the bulk of it they didn’t like.

Moving along into the 80s, they made another run at it. And the goal for Common Cause and those on the left was the following legislation was supposedly “voluntary.” The Supreme Court put it on hold, so they would come up with these schemes that made it look like it was voluntary when it wasn’t. But the goal was to cap spending, call it voluntary, but cap spending, and have taxpayers pay for the money (inaudible) — to quantify how much you could speak and to have the taxpayers pick up the tab for it, and then call it voluntary, but put mechanisms in there that would make Republicans say I don’t want to do it.

We had filibuster after filibuster, which in my first term in the Senate I was leading. And then it came back again in the first two years of Clinton. The bill would pass the House, the bill would pass the Senate, and then it would go to conference. And I was so determined, I came up with a new filibuster. That’s all I’d ever done before was filibuster and go in, go into conference. We had to do it all night long. Under (inaudible) procedure every senator had an hour, and if you didn’t show up right on time, you were out of luck.

Everybody rallied together. This was about two months before the great fall election of 1994. Everybody rallied together. We went around the clock. Everybody showed up on time. And I thought, well, maybe we’re finally through with this nonsense.

I was particularly pleased when President Bush got elected, and we had a Republican House and a Republican Senate. I thought surely we won’t have to deal with an issue like this. The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law in the early part of his first Administration (inaudible).

We went to court. I was represented by somebody I know you know, David, Floyd Abrams, who represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. Probably the most famous First Amendment lawyer in America was my lawyer. He said people at New York cocktail parties would come up to him and say what is this guy like. They couldn’t believe he was collaborating with us. They had no idea he was on our side, but alas, we lost five to four.

So what really then changed the Court was President Bush’s appointment of John Roberts. The most important was Sam Alito because we lost the McCain-Feingold case five to four because of Sandra Day O’Connor. The majority was all liberal. Then she retired, and Sam Alito replaced her, and we now have the best Supreme Court in anybody’s memory on the issue of First Amendment political speech.

And this Court has basically said — you, you remember the president wagging his finger at the Supreme Court over the Citizens United case? Do you all remember that a few years ago? They were sitting right there on the front row. The State of the Union is the one time the whole government is in one place (inaudible) Citizens United case.

What did the case decide? Well as you all know, corporations that own a newspaper or a television station (inaudible), they’re free to say whatever they want to say about anybody at any time. But if you were a corporation that didn’t own a newspaper or didn’t own a television station, you couldn’t. So all Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech. In other words, no longer did corporations have to own a newspaper or a television station in order to say whatever they wanted. It simply leveled the playing field.

And we’ve had a series of cases since then that I’ve filed amicus briefs in and had lawyers arguing in. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times.

The Supreme Court allowed all of you to participate in the process in a variety of different ways. You can give to the candidate of your choice. You can give to Americans for Prosperity, or something else, a variety of different ways to push back against the party of government. It has nothing to do with overly political speech.

The fact of the matter is the Democrats are the party of government. We are the party of the private sector. They have a government solution for every single thing. And the government has wanted more over the years and to have the government itself picking up the tab for political campaigns and pushing the private sector all the way out. But they’ve got a problem because the Supreme Court opened up the process, and we now have the opportunity (inaudible) to push back to try to stop this movement that’s been on (inaudible) the last six years.

Now, that’s where we are today. I’m really proud of this Supreme Court and the way they’ve been dealing with the issue of First Amendment political speech. It’s only five to four, and I pray for the health of the five.

(Laughter.)

MITCH MCCONNELL: (Inaudible). So those are some of my random thoughts. And what I’d like to do here, if I could have you all get into the (inaudible) and I could let the floor open to see who might want to, want to talk.

KEVIN GENTRY: Microphone is on. Thank you very much, Senator McConnell. We appreciate you (inaudible).

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: And so, come up. We would like to — there we go — right there in the back. If you’ll introduce yourself.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Yes, I’m Cheryl (inaudible). I wanted to know, I, I just recently read that with changing rules of engaging in war, you cannot engage in war (inaudible) wasn’t meant for you. Can you comment on that?

MITCH MCCONNELL: I’m not sure I know –

SPEAKER: Well, before we could give more people help, and now, I, I mean, (inaudible) if we felt, um, that, uh, uh, we — if we felt that we were threatened in some way, and now we can’t engage in war unless we’re actually attacked, would you say?

MITCH MCCONNELL: Uh –

FEMALE SPEAKER: You don’t know anything about that?

MITCH MCCONNELL: No, I don’t. You know, if we’re attacked, uh, certainly I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate (inaudible).

SPEAKER: Is there anything from the Obama Administration that states you can’t engage in war?

MITCH MCCONNELL: I think they choose not to do much of anything over there.

SPEAKER: (Inaudible) in Iraq now (inaudible).

MITCH MCCONNELL: Yeah, I’ll have to take a look at it. What I can tell you with regard to this Administration’s foreign policy is, can you think of a single place in the world where we’re in better shape now than we were when he took office? I mean, he took power in 2009, and, you know, (inaudible) American exceptionalism. And we really ought to talk to each other more frequently instead of (inaudible).

And so we’re, uh, in tough cases about everywhere in the world. As a result, citizens from all (inaudible) have more questions in foreign policy than (inaudible) because they don’t have to deal with senators and members of, uh, Congress. But uh, it, it isn’t enough, so (inaudible) try to pull through. Not to mention, it’s pretty hard to think of anything they didn’t mess up here at home. I don’t know if you all know (inaudible) all my life.

(Laughter.)

KEVIN GENTRY: Thank you, Cheryl. Over here. You’ve got a question for him. You’re going to come over here.

DAVID KOCH: Yeah, David Koch here. Thank, thank you for being here. (Inaudible) I wanted to comment on free speech. Yesterday, I read a — I read a quote in the New York Times, um, that uh, uh, (inaudible) these Koch brothers, what we’re up to.   And, uh, I understand that the senators are considering actually passing a bill — they’re saying women are not as our Constitution says (inaudible) Koch brothers. (Inaudible) temporary, yeah.

MITCH MCCONNELL: That’s correct. (Inaudible) Sam Alito left that out. That’s the most current. Having, having struck out at the Supreme Court, David, they now want to amend the Constitution. They want to amend the First Amendment for the first time since the Bill of Rights was passed. These people think they’re smarter than James Madison.

(Laughter.)

MITCH MCCONNELL: And the reason they want to amend the First Amendment is to give the Congress the authority to do what courts are not going to allow them to do, to determine who gets to speak and how much. In other words to grant authority to Congress that the Court would not allow, so they could (inaudible) amend the Constitution.

We had a vote on that 15 years ago, and even Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold voted against it. This time I think they’ve all (inaudible). But clearly the constitutional amendment has to pass the House and the Senate by two-thirds and be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

This is an act of true radicalism. It shows how far they’re willing to go to quiet the voices of, of their critics. (Inaudible) that’s been talked about during this conference – you know, the IRS, the SEC, and the FEC.

They’re on a full-tilt assault to use the power of the government to go after their critics. So here they want to formalize it by actually carving a hole in the First Amendment for the first time since it was passed, to give the Congress the authority to determine who gets to speak and who doesn’t (inaudible).

This just underscores the level of radicalism that the majority of the (inaudible) say endanger them. They, they are frightened of, of their critics. They don’t want to join the tradition in open discourse. They want to use the power of the government to quiet the voices of their critics (inaudible). But they’re going to continue to push the envelope (inaudible) all across the Federal government.

All of you are feeling it in the regulatory environment which has been talked about here a lot the last couple of days (inaudible) the regulators and this Administration. Are you making a profit? You have to know this (inaudible).

These people need to be stopped, and believe me, something that I thought to do (inaudible) what is spent (inaudible) independent coordination?

(Laughter.)

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: You know, you can (inaudible), but only if they do.

MITCH MCCONNELL: On offense it makes a big difference. And I do think that as a result of the way the Administration (inaudible) all over the country, enough people are on the cusp of doing the only thing that can be done in 2014. (Inaudible) January 27. The only thing that can be done in 2014 is to take the Senate, and I think we can do that.

KEVIN GENTRY: And two more questions (inaudible). Go ahead. Go ahead.

MALE SPEAKER: Uh, (inaudible) family from Arkansas. Following up on that, going on the offense. Uh, could you just name the top, uh, three to five key areas that you believe will be the significant advantage (inaudible)?

MITCH MCCONNELL: Good question. Remember, he’s still in the White House, and the (inaudible) game is still important. But at the least we can do the following things (inaudible). Number one, how do you set the agenda and (inaudible) Harry Reid? The principal advantage of the majority is to establish a caucus.

Number two, if we have a House and Senate that agree, we can have the votes. That can be done with 51 votes.

(Applause.)

MITCH MCCONNELL: Most things in the Senate require 60, but not the votes, and the President doesn’t sign the votes. So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the Federal government, we’re going to go after it.

Now look, I don’t want to over promise here, but even still we (inaudible). But this is a battle, and we (inaudible). We are going to push back against this regulatory overreach. It’s the reason why this is so important (inaudible).

So I think that’s the single most important thing we can do that doesn’t require getting to 60 votes in the Senate (inaudible). But that we can do for sure, and we will. And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage (inaudible) — cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment –- that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.

I’ll close with this (inaudible). If we want to get the country going again, we need to quit doing what we’ve been doing. Was it Einstein that said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result? You know, quit the borrowing, the spending, the taxing, and the over regulation. If we would all develop an entrepreneurial approach, we’d be able to lift this country up and send us in a new direction, just like all of you have done.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here.

(Applause.)

(END OF MCCONNELL REMARKS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Billionaire Summit

This article originally appeared in The Nation.

Charles and David Koch wrapped up their annual summer seminar on June 16 in Dana Point, California, at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort—a fitting location for two men whose combined net worth is more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign financeclimate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.)

According to another source who also attended the conference, 300 individuals—worth at least a billion each—were present. This source said that the explicit goal was to raise $500 million to take the Senate in the 2014 midterms and another $500 million “to make sure Hillary Clinton is never president.” Three hundred billionaires in attendance is likely an exaggeration; to put that figure in perspective, there are 492 total billionaires in the United States by Forbes’s count. The Koch network raised an estimated $407 million in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics.

The official conference lasted two days, Sunday and Monday, but several events for top donors occurred on Saturday. According to conference documents, Representatives Tom Cotton and Jim Jordan were to join a group of top donors for a post-golf lunch discussion. A special dinner was scheduled at La Casa Pacifica—the former home of President Richard Nixon that has come to be known as “The Western White House”—with Rich DeVos, the Amway co-founder, owner of the Orlando Magic and frequent Koch collaborator. The menu offered “oven roasted Angus natural filet mignon served in a fresh green peppercorn sauce served with braised fennel with truffle, asparagus tips, vegetable and mint quinoa” among other dishes prepared by Master Chef Maurice Brazier.

La Casa Pacifica is currently owned by Gavin Herbert, the founder of the pharmaceutical company Allergan and a Republican heavyweight. Herbert is a GOP donor and Nixon confidant, and Allergan is a major funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative powerhouse behind model legislation that would bust unions, repeal environmental protections, require voter ID and increase access to guns and justify their use in Stand Your Ground cases.

On Sunday, Representative Jordan, Senate minority leader McConnell and Koch legal operative Mark Holden held a strategy discussion titled “Free Speech: Defending First-Amendment Rights” for a small, invite-only group. McConnell was slated to address the full crowd in a talk by the same name later in the afternoon. Earlier this month, McConnell clashed with Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Reid’s proposed constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. The billionaire Koch brothers have been popular targets for Reid’s ire.

On the issue of campaign finance reform, Republicans argue that money equals speech and therefore regulating money in elections abridges first amendment free speech rights. The Democratic framework is that in a world where money equals speech, the rich are able to silence the poor and corrupt the political process. (Disclosure: I cover campaign finance reform extensively and work with Money Out/Voters In, a coalition of grassroots activists seeking to overturn Citizens United.)

Intriguing in its ambiguity was the “Energy: Changing the Narrative” session, presumably meant to change the narrative of climate change to one of energy independence. Panelists listed include Nancy Pfotenhauer, the president of MediaSpeak Strategies and former director of the Washington office of Koch Industries; Hubbel Relat, a former associate director of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation; and Karen Steward, the Director of Research at Freedom Partners—none of whom are scientists. According to The Daily Beast, the Kochs are investing large sums in “a new energy initiative with what looks like a deregulatory, pro-consumer spin” to combat President Obama’s new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions and liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s $100 million commitment to fight climate change. It is not hard to see why the Kochs, as the owners of a large carbon-based energy conglomerate with interests in oil, natural gas and coal, are some of the most vocal climate deniers. In 2013, Forbes listed Koch Industries as the second largest privately held company in the country.

Also on Sunday, conservative columnist Amity Shlaes was interviewed about her recent biography of Calvin Coolidge. Charles Murray, the libertarian political scientist and author of the controversial book The Bell Curve, gave dinner remarks. Other highlights included “Collectivism: Exploring Its Nature and Consequences” and “The Foundation for Progress,” which was broken down into several sessions, including “Part One: Drive the National Conversation,” “Part Two: Leverage Science and the Universities,” “Part Three: Advance in the States,” concluding with the aforementioned McConnell talk. Part One featured Michael Lomax, the president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, which recently received a $25 million donation from the Kochs to create a special “Koch Scholars” program emphasizing entrepreneurialism and free markets. Lomax has faced a storm of criticism for taking the money, given the history of attacks by Koch-funded organizations on voting rights, which do the most harm to underprivileged minorities who typically vote Democratic.

On Monday morning, conservative radio host and former Koch operative Jeff Crank was to interview Representatives Cotton and Gardner in a session titled “The Senate: A Window of Policy Opportunity for Principled Leaders.” Senator Rubio was to hold a small group discussion on an unnamed topic that afternoon and headline what was called internally “The Immigrant Experience” dinner, closing out the conference. Some interesting entries include “Texas: Sustaining a Culture of Freedom in the Lone Star State” and “Well-Being: What It Is and Why It’s Important.”

A special invitation-only, small group strategy discussion called “Employee Outreach: Engaging Your Workforce in the Cause of Freedom” was also scheduled for Monday, led by Koch insiders Dale Gibbens and Philip Ellender. A previous Nation story has documented how Koch Industries politically pressured as many as 50,000 workers in the run-up to the 2010 elections.

All of this took place in the idyllic backdrop of Monarch Bay and the luxurious St. Regis resort, which boasts rooms ranging from $495 a night to unlisted amounts for its very best accommodations. Room rates offered to the conference ranged from $199 for staff to $2,000 for the Presidential Suites. Freedom Partners, the Kochs’ financing arm, coordinated the event with the cover name “T & R Annual Sales Conference” and bought out the hotel from noon on Saturday to noon on Tuesday. According to a source in attendance, Freedom Partners spent more than $870,000, which included large fees to shut down public access to the golf course, the Michael Mina restaurant Stonehill Tavern and Motif Restaurant. Attendees were responsible for their own room charges.

Security was tight from noon on Saturday throughout the remainder of the conference, with checkpoints at every entrance to the resort. At the front gate, security guards and multiple Koch employees brandishing iPads greeted incoming cars. Even more Koch employees, acting as escorts, met guests at the front door. Guests were asked to abide by a no-cell phone policy, and security was in place to enforce that policy at events.

St. Regis Monarch Bay also has residences in adjacent properties as part of the Monarch Bay Club. Owners normally have access to the hotel, but according to one, he was denied access under the pretense that the hotel had been bought out by a group of Obama supporters. (The president had delivered a commencement speech at nearby UC Irvine on Saturday).

The level of security leads one to wonder—why such secrecy if the Koch’s initiatives really are in the best interest of the public at large? Wouldn’t everyday Americans heartily embrace new proposals to improve the economy and their government? Maybe protecting the business interests of billionaires doesn’t quite square with an American public that is still under siege by high unemployment, stagnant wages and ongoing foreclosures. This conclave of billionaires is determined to roll back Obamacare and carbon restrictions and to render the remainder of the Obama presidency ineffectual. In an America where money equals speech, Koch is king.

The offices of Representatives Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner and Jim Jordan; Senators Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio; and United Negro College Fund’s Michael Lomax did not respond to requests for comment.

The Underdogma of Elizabeth Warren

At American Family Voices, we are doing a series called “The Aggressive Progressive” to feature the speeches of bold progressive leaders, but with a twist. I add graphics like stylized portraits, charts and animations – if you are familiar with VH1’s “Pop-Up Video,” it is essentially pop-up video for politicos. In this edition, we feature a particularly fiesty Elizabeth Warren, who takes down GOP leading men Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz in her speech at the recent Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in Minnesota.

Normally the Massachusetts senator reserves her ire for bankers and their minions, regulators included, but here she deploys it, with a comedic touch, on the irrationality of Ryanic and Cruzian arguments against unemployment insurance and Wall Street regulation. I’ve seen many of Warren’s speeches and none have approached this level of glee in dismantling Republican dogma, chiefly the party’s unflinching defense of so-called ‘free’ markets. To be critical of free markets or to advocate for better regulation, like Warren, is not to be anti-capitalist or Communist – we do not live in a binary world, despite GOP efforts to characterize it as such.

Regulation must exist in order for society to function. Any time a law or regulation is enacted that has an economic impact, it is necessarily a government intervention into the market. To have a purely free market requires anarchy. Thus, ‘free’ market is a relative term, depending on which interventions your party deems to be okay. If you are Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz, ‘regulation’ is a dirty word, but not regulatory action. Acceptable intervention boils down to whether or not it impedes or improves the profitability of corporations and special interests. For example, the administration of New Jersey Governor and alleged free-market advocate Chris Christie recently banned sales of Tesla electric cars in the state, at the behest of the powerful auto dealer lobby, whose profits are threatened by Tesla’s direct-sales model… That doesn’t sound very free market to me, GOP.

There are winners and losers to every law; it is impossible for legislators to satisfy every constituent. However, when legislators consistently put the profits of powerful corporations and special interests ahead of the greater good, they are furthering plutocracy and weakening economic competition, thereby weakening our democracy. Elizabeth Warren is the true free market advocate here. Ryan and Cruz have dogma; Warren has underdogma. Watch Sen. Warren in the clip below, and subscribe to AFV on Youtube…

Lament of the Plutocats

Thought you might all enjoy my latest animation project, “Lament of the Plutocats.” It was partly inspired by a Politico article called “Lament of the Plutocrats,” by Ben White and Maggie Haberman, that discusses the feeling of persecution amongst bankers. But mostly it was the recent spate of ridiculous comments from these bankers…. like billionaire investor Sam Zell, who said, “The one percent work harder. The one percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.” The video also features venture capitalist Tom Perkins, Home Depot founder Ken Langone, and Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

I figured it might be entertaining to take the fat cat metaphor to the next level, so here you go… Obese cat bodies with the heads of finance guys, saying ridiculous things… Enjoy! And please like & share on Facebook, and subscribe to AFV on YouTube…

Smart Capitalists vs. Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, a dear friend of ex-Fed head Alan Greenspan and patron saint to Tea Party conservatives, built a lasting legacy with her philosophy of Objectivism. So much so that her devotees, like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is also her namesake, exhibit a pseudo-religious fervor for her ideals, chief among them “a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics…” Objectivism is rooted in the belief that rational self-interest is the only true morality. Ayn Rand narrowly advocated government as a preventer of violence and settler of disputes among men, and broadly abhorred regulations of any kind, including fair wages. According to Rand, “There are no “rights to a ‘fair’ wage or a ‘fair’ price” if no one chooses to pay it, to hire a man or to buy his product.”

Smart Capitalists vs. Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s disciples agree. Both Greenspan and Paul oppose raising the minimum wage, alleging that it would spur job loss. The former, a libertarian economist widely blamed for sowing the seeds for the 2008 financial meltdown, went further–to advocate abolishing the minimum wage, at a 2001 congressional hearing. Said Greenspan, “I’m not in favor of cutting anybody’s earnings or preventing them from rising, but I am against them losing their jobs because of artificial government intervention, which is essentially what the minimum wage is.”

But hey, Alan Greenspan has never been wrong. Or ironic. I mean the man was only a devout, anti-regulation, Ayn-Rand-worshipper, in charge of regulating the nation’s money supply over at the Federal Reserve. Did I mention that the chief tenet of Objectivism is the “separation of state and economics”?

Now, you should know that Ayn Rand was once my favorite author. It probably helped that I was an artist planning on starting my own business, that I had moved to New York to make a name for myself. I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and fantasized about a world in which I never had to compromise my beliefs; everyone acted in their rational self-interest; and my hard work eventually would be rewarded. But I always recognized Rand’s works as fiction. In this world, compromise is a fact of life; people often act irrationally; and hard work is not always rewarded…  As exemplified by those people working full time, toiling at below-poverty-level wages.

Arguing against the Randian free-market conventional wisdom, a group of business leaders calling themselves ‘Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity‘ is lobbying Congress and the administration to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Is the government setting a price floor for labor (aka a minimum wage) any more market-interventionist than taxpayers subsidizing corporate profits via various social programs for the grossly underpaid?  Which is more free market? Watch the video below to find out:

Undercover at ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council held its annual States & Nation Policy Summit in Washington, DC from Dec. 4-6 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, just a stone’s throw away from my office. Perhaps best known for its ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation cited in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, ALEC was front-and-center in the news last week because of the disclosure of a trove of documents detailing its financial woes by The Guardian. Given the proximity of the conference and my penchant for rabble-rousing, I of course paid a visit to my newly minted friends from this past August. I didn’t see Lew or John, but I did make a new pal in Montana State Representative Jonathan McNiven (R-44), although he probably won’t see it that way in the not-too-distant future.

I went undercover to try to dig up some dirt on this tax-exempt, allegedly nonpartisan, “educational non-profit” (wink wink), that many watchdogs say is really a partisan, special-interest lobbying effort. It seems its own members agree– McNiven, a first time conference attendee and himself a Republican, thought the summit was overtly pandering to party politics, specifically to the “wingnuts.” He went further, saying that speakers, like Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz, were “slandering” the other side, the other side being the Democratic Party.

Without the ‘nonpartisan’ designation, however flimsy it may be, the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council would clearly be considered lobbying, which is not allowed for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. According to the IRS:

Under IRC 501(c)(3), there are certain circumstances where nonpartisan analysis, study, or research of matters pertaining to legislation may be educational and will not constitute attempts to influence legislation. This occurs where the material is available to the public, governmental bodies, officials, and employees, and where the organization does not advocate the adoption or rejection of legislation.

Lobbying would be allowed if ALEC were a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, and the distinction is very important. Here’s why… contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations, or educational non-profits, are tax deductible; those made to 501(c)(4)s are not. That means fundraising is much harder for (c)(4)s.

Beyond tax-exemption, the nonpartisan designation is more important in terms of wooing corporate donors. If ALEC were unmasked to the public as a front for the Republican Party, then member corporations could face consumer backlash and ultimately a hit to revenues. Witness the effect of ALEC model bills like ‘Stand Your Ground’ and voter suppression. In the face of the ensuing public outcry, nearly 60 corporations terminated their memberships. Now, there is nothing wrong with advocating certain outcomes to legislation. What is wrong is to maintain a nonpartisan ruse in order to obtain tax-exemption and easier corporate fundraising.

McNiven himself espoused a politics of compromise, of focusing on the “real issues” over rhetoric, repeatedly using the word “win-win.” I found him to be a refreshing anomaly in today’s Republican Party. Watch the video below for the full context of our conversation…