Vice President Mike Pence popped in for a visit this weekend with Charles Koch, the billionaire GOP donor hosting his semi-annual confab of like-minded business leaders assessing their priorities for the White House and Congress.
The meeting was not listed on Pence’s official schedule for the day.
President Trump never much enjoyed backing from Koch ’s sprawling, secretive, political enterprise, which has emerged as a libertarian-leaning power center, sometimes overshadowing the traditional Republican Party apparatus with its high-dollar donors and vast operations. Koch’s group did not endorse the GOP presidential nominee.
But the network has always had close ties with Pence. The vice president had previously attended the exclusive gathering of donors, held this weekend at the luxurious Broadmoor hotel. And his top staff was plucked from a key Koch organization, Freedom Partners.
Pence and Koch and their top aides spoke for nearly an hour late Friday, according to a Koch spokesman. They discussed tax reform, the GOP’s healthcare overhaul and other heavy legislative lifts that have run into resistance in the Republican-controlled Congress. The aide described the talks as casual.
Pence was in the area making other stops, including at the Air Force Academy and an evening fundraiser for GOP Sen. Cory Gardner.
Even without investing in Trump, the Koch network has made impressive strides in advancing its agenda this year. Congress swiftly rolled back more than a dozen regulations, including some intended to protect the environment, that Koch-backed groups complained were too rigorous and invasive in industry operations.
The Koch network groups, including Freedom Partners, a free market-oriented, chamber of commerce-type organization, is pushing the Trump administration and Congress to pass tax reform and overhaul healthcare.
Both those efforts have stalled in Congress amid Republican infighting, but the Koch groups is able to put their army of resources – money, staff and volunteers in the states – to pressure lawmakers to act.