“Non-Partisan” LIBRE’s Unabashed Partisanship Does The GOP No Favors

November 30, 2015

The LIBRE Initiative, Charles and David Koch’s Latino outreach front group that works against the interests of the Hispanic community, is back in the spotlight. A number of news outlets —the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — have in the last week published stories exposing the organization, which claims to be politically neutral, for the partisan sham that it is.

Among other purposes, the Kochs — whose interest-group-funding organization, Freedom Partners, has “donated $6.5 million in 2014, $2.9 million in 2013 and $3.3 million in 2012 to Libre” — use LIBRE to build out their vast repository of voter file data, which they then contract out to candidates and the RNC through i360, their proprietary data firm. National Review last month got into LIBRE’s methods, which include using offerings of “driving classes, tax-preparation help, or health checkups” to collect voters’ information.

That seems to be working pretty well for Charles and David, because LIBRE doesn’t look to be changing up their tactics any time soon. According to the New York Times, LIBRE’s latest gambit, rolled out last week, was using Thanksgiving turkeys to garner Latino voters’ personal information. The Times also gets into some of LIBRE’s other partisan activity, notably, “pouring money into House races to help defeat two Hispanic lawmakers — Pete P. Gallego of Texas and Joe Garcia of Florida, both Democrats — because they supported the president’s health care plan, among other issues Libre opposes.” The Wall Street Journal similarly notes LIBRE’s unapologetic partisan tactics, describing the group’s “outreach” as “peppering [recent immigrants] with conservative political messages.”

Yes, the Kochs are persistent — we don’t expect their partisan “peppering” of the Hispanic community to dwindle — but they’re facing a real uphill battle. First off, there’s the GOP’s embrace of outright xenophobia: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have refused to denounce Donald Trump’s nativist demagoguery and branded themselves as outspoken anti-immigrantion hardliners — but Charles and David show no sign of ruling out an endorsement.

And it’s not just the Kochs’ tacit support for the GOP’s anti-immigration policies that presents a problem for improving the Hispanic community’s perception of the Republican Party.

“The trouble with all this is that Latinos tend to support the overall Democratic governing vision — and not the Republican one — when it comes to economic issues and health care, too,” writes the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, citing polling data which shows a majority of Hispanics not only support the Democratic Party’s views on jobs and the economy, but also have a favorable view of Obama and his presidential legacy. Furthermore, Sargent notes that additional polling has “consistently found that a majority of Hispanics view the Affordable Care Act favorably,” which is an even bigger problem for the Charles and David — as well as LIBRE and their other front groups — whose messaging is frequently centered around a total repeal of Obamacare.

The Kochs will spend millions on sham Latino outreach during the 2016 election — that is not in question. But what is similarly evident is that LIBRE’s efforts and priorities are squarely in contradiction with the interests and views of the Hispanic community. And that sets them up for a big loss in 2016 — no matter how much voter data they aggregate or turkeys they hand out.

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To reach a member of the American Bridge 21st Century press team, email Ben Ray, Communications Director, at ben@americanbridge.org

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation