Freedom Partners Action Fund

Freedom Partners Action Fund is a Super PAC linked closely to the Koch network’s ‘central hub,’ Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[1] The group, founded in 2014, spent $23.4 million to elect Republican candidates that year.[2]

Before 2014, the Koch network had not established a Super PAC. Instead, they spent through nonprofits, which do not require donors to disclose their identities. That calculus changed. As explained by Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times,

“Until now, groups supported by the Kochs and their fellow donors have relied heavily on “issue ads” that do not specifically ask listeners to vote for or against a candidate. Strategists working with the Kochs concluded that the approach, while preserving the secrecy of donors, limited the political impact of the groups’ efforts. With the Kochs already the subject of aggressive and personal attacks by Democrats, and after reports that revealed the names of many of the wealthy donors working with them, Freedom Partners concluded that the flexibility afford by the super PAC was worth the headaches that increased disclosure may bring, according to a person who attended the group’s most recent conference.”[3]

In 2016, Freedom Partners has spent $3.7 million against former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio, $3 million against environmental policy advisor Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, $2.1 million against former Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, and $1.1 million against former Secretary of State Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.[4][5] One of the ads run against Feingold made false claims about his record, at which point local TV stations pulled the ad.[6]

As of April 30, 2016, Freedom Partners Action Fund had $10.6 million on hand.[7] Charles Koch has given the group $3 million during the 2016 cycle, while other Republican magnates including Ken Griffin, Diane Hendricks, Paul Foster, and Richard Gilliam have each contributed at least $1 million.[8]

[1]Kochs launch new Super PAC.” Darren Goode and Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico, 06/16/14

[2]Freedom Partners Action Fund – Outside Spending Summary 2014.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 10/27/15

[3]Koch group forms ‘Super PAC’ as 2014 races near.” Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times, 06/17/14

[4]Freedom Partners Action Fund – Independent Expenditures.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 05/23/16

[5]Koch-backed group drops $3 million against Democrat in PA Senate race.” Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News, 05/26/16

[6]Three TV stations pull Tomah ad critical of Russ Feingold.” Daniel Bice, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 05/08/16

[7]Freedom Partners Action Fund – FEC Form 3X.” Federal Election Commission, 04/30/16, p. 2

[8]Charles Koch complains about lack of influence while his Super PAC raises $11 million.” Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post, 01/31/16