Wichita Wealthy businessman Charles Koch has launched a $200,000 ad campaign in Wichita focused on political and economic issues.
The chairman of Wichita-based Koch Industries told The Wichita Eagle that the four-week media campaign that began Wednesday will laud economic freedom and warn about government overreach. It is funded by his Charles Koch Foundation.
If people like it, he might take the campaign to other cities, Koch said.
The campaign promotes the idea that countries with economic freedom have the most wealth. Koch told the Eagle that he believes his ideas will help disadvantaged people, saying government regulations, including the minimum wage, tend to hold everyone back.
“What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency,” Koch told the newspaper in a phone interview.
He acknowledged the move will likely draw fire from people who criticized his campaign spending last year.
“The people who are more interested in power and their own interest rather than the general interest are threatened by these ideas,” Koch said.
Chapman Rackaway, a former GOP consultant political consultant and a political science professor at Fort Hays State University, says the campaign signals a new strategy.
“For a long time now, the Koch brothers preferred to act very quietly, and you had to be really in the game to know who they were funding, who they were allied with, what their motivations were,” Rackaway said. “... But the thing about politics is, it forces people into the public eye. In their case, they were turned into a kind of shadowy bogey man.”
Larry Jacobs, a politics professor at the University of Minnesota, said many of Koch’s ideas about government regulations are contentious and probably won’t go anywhere.
“But I understand his frustration,” Jacobs said. “It’s really quite striking, you get a sense of a guy who feels mystified as to why he’s become demonized to some extent, as someone selfish, out for himself. There is a kind of caricature of the Koch brothers — obviously the Democrats and liberals do a lot of fundraising based on demonizing him.”
In an unrelated matter, Koch also said his company might bid on buying the Tribune Co. newspapers, which includes the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.”
“It’s not on the front burner, but it’s possible,” Koch said.