Two conservative nonprofits supported by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch increased their spending nearly fourfold in 2014, repeating a pattern of greater activity in election years, writes The Wall Street Journal.
Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners spent a combined $220 million last year after reporting expenditures of $57 million in 2013. The groups were also more active in the presidential election year of 2012, when they spent $359 million. The Koch-affiliated political network expects to pump about $750 million into 2016 races.
Respectively, a 501(c)(4) and a 501(c)(6) organization, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners can raise unlimited funds without disclosing donors but under federal rules cannot put the majority of their money into political causes. They are barred from explicitly supporting or opposing candidates but can run "issue ads," such as those made by Americans for Prosperity in the 2014 cycle attacking Democrats who supported the Affordable Care Act. Campaign-finance watchdogs contend their spending pattern shows the groups are essentially political.