2017 Koch Seminar Network Strategy Memo: “Advancing Comprehensive Tax Reform”

This strategy memo from Charles Koch’s network to its funders was first reported by Lee Fang and Nick Surgey at The Intercept. This memo preceded Koch’s successful effort to get Trump to sign into law massive tax cuts that substantially benefited the richest few in the U.S.

This memo articulating Koch’s tax agenda was shared under the rubric of what was then called the “Seminar Network,” which previously operated under the name “Freedom Partners” and which now operates under the name “Stand Together.” Whatever the name, the concept is the same: this is the political agenda of the Koch empire in coordination with the CEOs and corporations that help fund Charles Koch’s agenda through a non-profit trade group that has operated under whatever brand name Koch approves.

This kind of strategy memo is one of the organizing tools deployed by Koch to get his billionaire and millionaire funder allies, who are part of what is also sometimes called the “Koch Network,” on the same page about the electoral/policy agenda for the year ahead. Koch’s political hq circulates these kinds of memos as part of the semi-annual retreats Charles Koch has been hosting for years to advance his personal and corporate agenda.

Here are some quotes from the memo itself:

  • “Comprehensive tax reform has been a long-standing priority for our Network, and the election of Donald Trump, coupled with pro-freedom majorities in the House and Senate, offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore prosperity by enacting reforms.” [emphasis added]
  • “As we head into the fall, negotiations on the tax bill will begin in earnest. Our Network will continue to apply pressure to push our aggressive timeline for tax reform as we work to get a bill on President Trump’s desk before the end of the year.” [emphasis added; also: Koch’s Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity did and Trump signed into law huge tax cuts for the richest.]
  • “Your financial investment in this comprehensive effort will allow us to raise the volume over the opposition, engaging hundreds of thousands of activists and paid media in the fight. Only if we bring the full capabilities of this network into the battle, will we be able to push change that will last a generation.” [emphasis added]

The following are excerpts from the Intercept about this memo:

  • “A detailed timeline for the Koch strategy was laid out in a recent document prepared by a public relations firm that services the broad network of conservative advocacy groups controlled by the billionaire brothers’ political network. The plan calls for action to take advantage of President Donald Trump’s pledges to reform the tax code.”
  • “The strategy memo lays out a five-phase plan for passing a version of tax reform that is favorable to the Koch donor network. The Koch brothers make clear that their ideal tax reform legislation would exclude the idea of an import or carbon tax, while focusing on broad reductions in the corporate tax rate.”
  • “Although a portion of the strategy entails traditional lobbying and meetings with influential policymakers, along with paid advertising to pressure lawmakers, the memo also calls for substantial resources to be invested in grassroots advocacy.”
  • “The metadata of the document shows that it was created by Avery Boggs, a former vice president at Freedom Partners, the umbrella group that oversees the Koch political network. Boggs now works as a vice president at In Pursuit Of, a public relations firm spun off from the Koch network designed to provide marketing services to the various groups that receive funding from Freedom Partners.”