Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a Democrat from North Dakota in real danger of losing this fall, with Real Clear Politics ranking the race as a toss-up between Heitkamp and her Republican challenger, Kevin Cramer.
Luckily enough for Heitkamp, Charles and David Koch—through their kraken-like network of conservative dark money groups—are gallantly coming to help her out, with the Koch-aligned group Americans For Prosperity announcing on Friday that it is launching a digital ad campaign backing Heitkamp’s re-election.
The ads thank Heitkamp for co-sponsoring the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protect Act, which rolled back parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and also curtailed federal regulators’ ability to police banks for discriminatory lending practices.
The move to support Heitkamp comes only two months after the Koch network launched a six-figure ad buy attacking her for voting against the Republican tax reform bill in December. At the time, Americans for Prosperity put about $450,000 toward the advertising blitz, which ran throughout her state on television and digital outlets. She’s one of 10 Senate Democrats seeking re-election this year in states President Donald Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.
But now, Americans for Prosperity is backing Heitkamp, and the aid comes as the network as a whole is looking to push forward its policy initiatives through Congress regardless of party affiliation, including criminal justice reform and protection for those participating in the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals programs, who are also known as the Dreamers. It is also hoping to make inroads on cutting back on government spending.
Here’s what one of the new ads looks like:
It’s somewhat surprising that the Koch Brothers are using their vast, Scrooge McDuckian wealth to help out a Democratic candidate, although not entirely unprecedented. Earlier this month, another arm of the billionaire brothers’ political network announced they were sending out mailers thanking both Democrats and Republicans for working on a legislative fix to protect DACA recipients. The mailers were sent out by the Kochs’ LIBRE Initiative, their Hispanic outreach group.
Like the rest of her Democratic colleagues, Heitkamp did not vote for the Republicans’ disastrous tax bill, while Koch-backed groups are planning to spend $20 million selling the bill to American voters ahead of the midterm elections. One digital ad campaign for an embattled Democrat hardly compares to the hundreds of millions of dollars the Koch network has spent supporting Republican candidates over the years.
Still, Heitkamp has been staking her claim as a moderate Democrat ahead of November. She was one of six Democrats who voted to confirm Gina Haspel as the next director the Central Intelligence Agency, despite her record overseeing the torture of suspected terrorists. (Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bill Nelson of Florida—all of whom are all running for re-election in “toss-up” races—also voted to confirm Haspel.) But Heitkamp’s work easing regulations on banks was apparently what endeared her to the Koch network, according to the president of Americans for Prosperity.
This story is a perfect summation of how campaign finance works for the mega-wealthy: Be they Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t hurt to cover all your bases. When you have more money than you know what to do with, why not pour it into ad campaigns attacking—and then defending—the same candidate? I personally can’t think of a better use for the Koch Brothers’ fortune.