WASHINGTON -- Despite their stated support for both personal and economic libertarianism, billionaires Charles and David Koch are sending funds through their dark money political network to support a "get out the vote" drive by evangelical Christians who oppose abortion rights and are furious at recent court rulings that allow gay marriage.
Over the past month, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the central hub of the Kochs' dark money enterprise, contributed $885,000 to CitizenLink, a social welfare nonprofit focused on election engagement. The group was launched by Focus on the Family -- an evangelical Christian group that opposes abortion and gay marriage -- and was previously known as Focus on the Family Action.
The contributions to CitizenLink are being used in a "get out the vote" effort to help elect Republicans who share their opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
On Wednesday, CitizenLink reported spending almost $250,000 on direct mail to support Republican Senate candidates Bill Cassidy in Louisiana, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Pat Roberts in Kansas, Dan Sullivan in Alaska and Thom Tillis in North Carolina. All of these candidates support banning or severely restricting abortion and oppose recent court decisions that struck down bans on same-sex marriage.
However, the Koch brothers appear to have different views on those issues.
"I believe in gay marriage," David Koch told Politico in a 2012 interview.
Daniel Schulman, a senior editor at Mother Jones and author of Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, writes that David Koch supports not only gay marriage but also abortion rights. Running as the Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate in 1980, David Koch backed a platform calling for the full legalization of abortion.
Charles Koch has been more tight-lipped on the policies pursued by Christian conservatives. As Schulman points out, however, he scoffed at the separation of economic libertarianism from personal libertarianism in a 1978 writing.
"What a spectacle it is for the same people who preach freedom in voluntary economic activities to call for the full force of the law against voluntary sexual or other personal activities!" Charles Koch wrote.
Since 2010, the political nonprofit network operated by the Koch brothers has funnelled nearly $24 million to evangelical Christian and conservative Catholic groups that support legislating traditional religious morality and strongly oppose gay marriage and abortion, according to tax returns filed by Koch-run nonprofits and collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Including the recently disclosed contributions, CitizenLink has received almost $10 million of these contributions. Concerned Women for America, a large anti-abortion group, received $11.4 million from the Koch network since 2010. Another anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony List, received more than $1.5 million over the same time period.
Charles Koch has said those who would like to shrink government, cut taxes and eliminate regulations need to fund social conservative organizations, even if they support using the force of government to restrict personal freedoms.
Investigative reporter Lee Fang, in a Vice article decrying the Kochs' "fake libertarianism," notes that Charles Koch previously told a gathering of religious conservatives that support for social conservative groups was essential to enacting his vision of economic liberty. This funding would "rally the troops and unite social and economic conservatives to make a difference."
"We are trying to build a broad coalition to drive positive change in America," Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis said in an email. "We have been active in the fight against Obamacare and this is an issue where we have strong alignment."
This story has been updated to include a comment from Freedom Partners.