The Koch Primary

Billionaire Charles G. Koch and his brother David H. Koch are lightening rods for liberal criticism.  The effort by potential Republican candidates to woo support from the Kochs and their network of donors came to be termed the Koch primary.  The organization at the center the activity is the Koch-linked Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.  A key event was its winter meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. in late Jan. 2015.  On Jan. 25, Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio participated an invitation-only "American Recovery Policy Forum" moderated by ABC News' Jonathan Karl.  Gov. Scott Walker also also attended the meeting, and according to the New York Times, former Gov. Jeb Bush was invited but could not make it due to a scheduling conflict.  The Koch primary is not unique; in April 2014 the media reported on the Sheldon primary or the Sheldon Adelson primary, when a number of Republican presidential prospects trekked to Las Vegas for the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.  On the Democratic side, progressives have the Democracy Alliance.

Freedom Partners [Jan. 31, 2015]

About Us

Freedom Partners, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society

Freedom Partners was first established as the Association for American Innovation in November 2011, and was later renamed to better reflect the organization’s mission. We have over 200 members and work with businesses, both large and small, to promote and preserve the foundations of a free society.

Freedom Partners’ principal goal is to educate the public about the critical role played by free markets in achieving economic prosperity, societal well-being, and personal happiness.  We seek to build support for a fiscally responsible government, and policies that support entrepreneurship, spur job creation, and increase opportunities for all. We focus primarily on four issue areas: health care reform, federal spending, energy policy, and cronyism.

Freedom Partners believes that the bedrock of the American republic is the ingenuity of its entrepreneurs and innovators. The free market is the lifeblood of innovation and a conduit for the infinite potential of human aspiration. We face a critical juncture in American history, as an increasingly cumbersome government bureaucracy erodes the freedoms that support a prosperous society. Only by getting the government out of the way will individuals be able to build a free and strong society.

We cannot do this alone. Partnerships are crucial. Therefore, Freedom Partners awards grants to organizations to conduct nonpartisan issue advocacy and bring these important societal and economic issues to the public’s attention. These relationships give Freedom Partners an opportunity to reach across the country to build coalitions that advance our mission.

Board Members

Marc Short

Marc Short is President of Freedom Partners. Previously, Marc served as chief of staff for the House Republican Conference, chaired by Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) and for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). In his early career, Marc was the executive director of the Reagan Ranch, where he completed the initial multi-million dollar capital campaign to preserve the historic property and served as the executive director of Freedom Alliance from 1995-1998.  He was also the director of the Virginia Finance Committee for the Oliver North for U.S. Senate campaign.

Marc graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1992. In 2004, he received his master’s degree from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. He lives in Arlington with his wife and their three children.

Mark Holden

Mark Holden is senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, Inc. and serves as corporate secretary. He also is president and COO of the Legal Division of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, which provides legal, and government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates.

Before joining Koch in 1995, Mr. Holden was an associate with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Holden earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts. He earned his law degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, where he was an associate editor of the Catholic University Law Review.

Wayne Gable

Wayne Gable is a business owner, economist, and management professional with more than 20 years of executive level management, economic policy analysis, legislative advocacy and nonprofit operations.

Wayne previously served as a managing director of international government affairs at Koch Industries, Inc., where he conducted country risk analysis and intergovernmental relations for Koch Industries’ business development department. Today Wayne owns and operates several franchises of America’s Swimming Pool Company, the nation’s largest swimming pool maintenance and repair company.

In his early career, Wayne managed multiple DC-based non-profits, serving as the CEO of the Tax Foundation through 1991 and later as board chairman. Wayne graduated with a bachelor’s in economics from Auburn University and received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in 1987.

Kevin Gentry

Kevin Gentry serves as vice president for special projects – development, at Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC. Kevin also works to build the fundraising and marketing capabilities for organizations that are dedicated to advancing a free society.

Previously, Kevin served as vice president of the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and prior to that he served as executive vice president of the Leadership Institute.

Kevin and his wife, Anne, are both graduates of the College of William and Mary, and they live in Virginia with their two children. They are also active members of The Falls Church Anglican, where Kevin has served on the vestry and presently serves as stewardship chairman.

Nestor Weigand

Nestor Weigand, Jr. joined the firm of J.P. Weigand & Sons, Inc. in 1961 and has been deeply involved in the company ever since. He served as president from 1983 through 2001 and is now the chairman of the board & CEO. Nestor brings 53 years of real estate experience in residential, commercial, industrial, investment and counseling. Since 1978, he has served as a director of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Nestor was past chairman of the Board of the Institute of Logopedics (renamed Heartspring), and has also served on the boards of the Kansas Health Foundation, Kansas Highway Commission, Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce, and Wichita Symphony Society.

Presently, he is chairman of the board of Wesley Medical Center and a member of the Board of Directors of Regal Entertainment, headquartered in Knoxville, TN. Nestor graduated from St. Thomas Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1956 and he received his BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame in 1960.

ed. note: On of the most persistent critics of the Koch brothers is Sen. Bernie Sanders...
PRESS RELEASE from Sen. Bernie Sanders

The Koch Brothers Primary   

BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 24 – Potential Republican presidential candidates are hobnobbing this weekend with politically potent billionaires at an invitation-only gathering in Palm Springs, California, that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others have called “the Koch brothers primary.”
Four Republican hopefuls – looking to line up benefactors to bankroll their campaigns – are participating in mostly closed-door meetings of millionaires and billionaires assembled by Charles and David Koch, the industrial tycoons who control the second largest family fortune in the United States.
“Americans used to think Iowa and New Hampshire held the first caucus and primary in the nation every four years. Not anymore. Now the ‘Koch brothers primary’ goes first to determine who wins the blessing and financial backing of the billionaire class. This is truly sad and shows us how far Citizens United has gone to undermine American democracy.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are all speaking at the winter meeting of the so-called Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.
To end the ability of billionaires to buy elections, Sanders on Wednesday introduced a constitutional amendment that would undo the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That narrow 5-4 decision and subsequent court cases struck down decades-old laws that had limited how much money wealthy individuals and corporations may contribute to campaigns.
Vermont and 15 other states along with voters and city councils in more than 600 cities and towns already have passed measures supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. “People across the political spectrum are demanding that billionaires not be able to buy American democracy,” Sanders said.
The influence of money in politics was on vivid display this week in the Senate, where Republicans promoting the interests of a giant international oil conglomerate blocked Sanders’ proposal to put Congress on record acknowledging the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels causes global warming. “The issue was whether we listen to the scientists or listen to the powerful fossil fuel industry.  Sadly, the Republicans sided with the special interests and campaign contributors who promote the myth that climate change is not caused by carbon emissions,” Sanders said.
Contact: Michael Briggs (202) 224-5141