Conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have begun to vet GOP nominees for the 2016 presidential race - and there's a huge incentive to find favor with these donors...
The projected sum of the Koch brothers' political contributions this election cycle -- which would include monetary aid to their candidate of choice -- is a whopping $889 million. That's more than twice what was spent by the Republican National Committee during the 2012 election cycle.
What the Koch brothers want is a president who will do their bidding. In order to determine the best candidate for that job, the brothers will host a summer summit with the nominees they favor. (While the exact date and time of this summer's summit is unknown, last summer's conference took place in June in Dana Point, Calif.)
Five presidential hopefuls will vie for a portion of the oil barons' billions: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
During the summit, the chosen candidates must speak at a large gathering of the brothers' network associates. The nominees are expected to debate, present, and strategize issues in which the Kochs are particularly invested.
Based on the candidates' performances, Charles and David will decide who gets a political contribution, and how much.
Here are the top three issues the Koch brothers want to see addressed at their summit -- and the candidates' position on each...
Koch Brothers' Political Contributions Goes to Winners of These 3 Issues
Koch Brothers' Political Contributions Issue No. 1: Enact Stricter Voter ID Laws
The Kochs have long funded efforts to police the voting process. For example, ample Koch brothers' political contributions have gone toward political proponents of stricter voting laws in dozens of states. These laws can keep would-be voters from getting a ballot if they cannot present government-issued identification.
Additionally, the oil barons would prefer certain demographics stay away from the voting booth: young adults, minorities, and the elderly, according to a Sept. 26, 2014 MSNBC article.
Here is where the candidates stand on voter ID laws:
- Jeb Bush: In May 2005, the former Florida governor signed a bill into law that restricted early voting opportunities by capping the number of hours for early voting and confined it to election offices, city halls, and libraries. According to his book Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, Bush believes that stricter voter ID laws are important to protect the integrity of the entire voting franchise.
- Ted Cruz: Sen. Cruz is a major proponent of stricter voter ID laws. On June 17, 2013, he filed an amendment to the federal immigration reform bill that required a show of official identification by voters. Later that month, the senator applauded the U.S. Supreme Court when it struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act on June 25.
- Marco Rubio: Rubio also supports more stringent voter ID laws. According to CNN on May 29, 2012, "During a campaign stop [in April 2012] with Romney in Pennsylvania, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American Republican, blew off what he sees as overhyped concerns about showing photo IDs. People have to show IDs for everything from boarding a flight to renting sports equipment, Rubio reasoned, so why not voting. 'What's the big deal? What is the big deal?' Rubio asked."
- Rand Paul: Rand Paul eschews the topic of stricter voter ID laws. A Nov. 3, 2014, Christian Science Monitor article quotes Paul as saying, "I'm not really opposed to [voter ID]. I am opposed to it as a campaign theme." This basically means he doesn't want to talk about it - a position that might soon change in order to appease the Koch brothers.
- Scott Walker: Wisconsin's strict voter ID law was halted by the Supreme Court in October 2014 due to unfair bias against minorities. Still, Walker remains adamant that his law simply stopped fraudulent voters from accessing ballots. The law required that voters obtain new ID in order to vote.