$889 million could buy a good-sized private island or several fighter jets, but can it buy an American election? The billionaire Koch brothers appear to believe so. The brothers and a network of hundreds of other wealthy right-wing donors announced the mammoth spending target at a meeting of the Freedom Partners business lobby group yesterday, reports the Washington Post. The Kochs and their allies are now "essentially their own political party," writes Andy Kroll at Mother Jones, noting that $889 million, or close to $4 for every American of voting age, is around as much as each nominee is expected to spend in 2016. It's also $250 million more than the GOP spent in 2012, and more than the combined spend of George W. Bush and John Kerry's campaigns in 2004.
Freedom Partners says its goal is to promote free-market ideals in American society, and politics is just one of several ways of doing so. It's not clear whether the group plans to spend any of the cash on the GOP primaries. Three potential 2016 contenders, Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, took part in a panel discussion at the conference where they shrugged off a question about the influence of money on politics, the Post reports. Cruz called it "grotesque and offensive" that some Democrats apparently consider the Kochs "the nexus of all evil in the world." (The deep-pocketed brothers are also funding an initiative to win Hispanic voters over to the conservative cause.)