Americans for Prosperity will honor billionaire industrialist David Koch and North Carolina businessman Art Pope — two of its founders — during the Republican convention in Tampa, according to a news release today.
The reception, called “A Salute to Entrepreneurs Building America,” will be held Aug. 30. Koch, a major Republican booster who held a fundraiser last month for presidential contender Mitt Romney, will be in town as a New York convention delegate.
AFP is pitching the reception as a response to President Barack Obama’s oft-repeated comment, “You didn’t build that.”
David Koch is co-owner, with his brother, Charles, of Kansas-based Koch Industries, one of the largest closely held companies in the world. Pope runs Variety Wholesalers Inc., a closely held company in North Carolina. David Koch and Pope help guide AFP, according to tax documents, an organization they helped start more than eight years ago.
Americans for Prosperity also plans a bus tour to highlight Obama’s “failing agenda.” That’ll launch in Charlotte during the Democratic convention.
AFP and its companion foundation are organized as nonprofits, meaning they don’t have to disclose their donors and are restricted in how much of their budget can be spent on political activities.
Yet they’re making a big investment in this year’s presidential race. AFP President Tim Phillips estimated the group will spend $100 million this year, the majority of it on ground activities such as voter outreach to promote smaller government and less spending. Those themes dovetail with the messaging of Republican candidates including Romney.
More directly, AFP is airing $25 million worth of television advertisements in presidential battleground states this month that expressly call for Obama to be voted out of office. The group also is spending at least $7 million on issues ads they say are meant to put pressure on Democratic senators and representatives whom they view as wasteful spenders.