Exclusive: Koch brothers will not use funds to block Trump nomination

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2016 6:03 PM

By Michelle Conlin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Koch brothers, the most powerful conservative mega donors in the United States, will not use their $400 million political arsenal to block Republican front-runner Donald Trump's path to the presidential nomination, a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We have no plans to get involved in the primary," said James Davis, spokesman for Freedom Partners, the Koch brothers’ political umbrella group. He would not elaborate on what the billionaire industrialists' strategy would be for the Nov. 8 general election to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama.

Donors and media reports have speculated since a Koch brothers summit in January that they would launch a "Trump Intervention," which would involve deploying the Kochs’ vast political network to target the billionaire businessman and former reality TV star in hopes of removing him from the Republican race.

Many Republican party elites and business backers are eager to see Trump, a political outsider who has tapped into America's rising anti-establishment sentiment, fail in his bid for the nomination.

But with Trump racking up a series of sizeable wins in the early nominating contests, there is a growing sense of inevitability he will win the party's mantle.

Three sources close to the Koch brothers, who oppose Trump’s protectionist trade rhetoric and views on immigration, said the Kochs were concerned they had not yet seen any attack on Trump stick.

The brothers are also smarting from the millions they pumped into the 2012 Republican presidential bids of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, only to see both candidacies fail, the sources said.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)