Koch cronies populate the rapidly filling swamp in the Trump White House
The release of financial disclosures for staff in the Donald Trump administration revealed this week that many of the new White House staff were previously funded by Charles and David Koch.
The Intercept noticed the common similarity well after confirmation or official hiring because the money was undisclosed by the transition and administration.
There are some obvious ties like Marc Short, hired to be Trump’s chief liaison to Congress. He previously worked for Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which funnels money from the Kochs to other allied groups. Another is Donald McGahn, Trump’s new White House counsel. He previously did legal work for several Koch groups that did political work during the elections. Kellyanne Conway also has Koch ties as a consultant for Americans for Prosperity last year.
However, other Koch-funded staffers are becoming known that are lower down in the Trump hierarchy.
Andy Koenig worked as a vice president at Freedom Partners and now serves as Trump’s policy assistant at the White House. He scored $320,000 last year, according to his financial disclosure.
Andrew Bremberg and Bethany Scully also consulted for Freedom Partners through a firm. They now serve as the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and in the Office of Legislative Affairs, respectively.
Brian Blase works as a special assistant to the president on healthcare, but he originally worked at the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded think tank at George Mason University.
Andeliz Castillo works on Mike Pence’s staff as a senior aide. She previously worked on Latino outreach at the Libre Initiative, an arm of the Koch network.
Stephen Ford was hired as the head speechwriter for Pence, but most recently worked as a speechwriter for Freedom Partners.
While the Koch brothers claimed they’d be “sitting out” directly supporting Trump during the 2016 election season, many of their groups ran get out the vote operations targeting conservative voters in swing states. Trump benefited from their efforts. The Koch brothers groups also ran anti-Hillary Clinton ads and played up problems with the Affordable Care Act in the final weeks of the campaign in swing states.
As The Intercept noted, election laws prohibit groups like the Koch-funded organizations from coordinating with candidates, though the rules are rarely enforced.
Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington during the 2016 campaign.