The decision by Americans for Prosperity’s super PAC to endorse Nikki Haley for president has ignited discord within the Koch Network and affiliated organizations. The move has led to vocal opposition from some members, revealing a rift within the conservative network associated with billionaire Charles Koch.
Chris Maidment, a former director of grassroots for the network in New Hampshire, was terminated after publicly expressing concerns about the Haley endorsement. Maidment cited differences in opinion on key issues like free speech and foreign policy as reasons for his opposition. While acknowledging that many share his perspective, he noted that several individuals are hesitant to speak out due to various reasons.
In Iowa, Mark Lucas, the former AFP director of its chapter in the state, endorsed former President Donald Trump and criticized the network at a Saturday event in Cedar Rapids.
AFP CEO Emily Seidel defended the PAC’s endorsement of Haley when questioned about concerns related to her foreign policy record and dissenting voices within the organization. Seidel emphasized the importance of constructive and respectful dialogue, indicating a willingness to collaborate with individuals where there is agreement.
The Koch network, a longstanding influential force in politics, has historically supported business-friendly Republicans. However, the hesitancy to align with Trump has raised concerns about potential erosion of influence if he regains the presidency in 2024.
The endorsement of Haley over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis comes amid indications that the former South Carolina governor is gaining ground in the 2024 GOP primary polls, particularly in early states where she is in close competition with DeSantis for second place behind Trump.