The Koch Network and other Trump allies are quietly backing his biggest GOP critic: Rep. Liz Cheney


Cheney’s role as vice chairman of the committee investigating Trump’s actions in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has cost the third-ranking Republican in the US House her GOP tenure and her seat in Congress . She lost the Republican nomination in a landslide last week to one of Trump’s picks, Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman.

Cheney is now considering a run against Trump for president in 2024, she told NBC News, and has quietly assembled a team of top GOP advisers to help her ensure he never returns to the White House.

“I believe Donald Trump continues to pose a very grave threat and danger to our republic. And I think defeating him will require a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and that’s what I I intend to be a part of it,” she said in an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show last week.

Shortly after her defeat, she created a leading political action committee titled “The Big Task” which will allow her to keep her political aspirations alive as she takes on the former president. Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago Florida home and private club was raided by the FBI just days before the primary, has not ruled out running for president again in two years.

Cheney is using some of Trump’s own consultants and allies, including those from the powerful Koch network, to try to prevent the former president from winning a second term in the White House. Some of them appear to have used limited liability companies that hide their identities from the public.

“These people will be persona non grata after Cheney’s loss,” a senior GOP strategist close to Trump said when asked if the president and his associates would work with former Cheney advisers again. Jeff Miller, a longtime lobbyist and ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has told vendors not to work with Cheney’s team, according to The New York Times.

Miller and a Trump spokesman did not return a request for comment. A spokesman for Cheney did not return a request for comment.

Billionaire and conservative political supporter Charles Koch is helping Cheney through i360, a data and technology company owned by his conglomerate, Koch Industries, according to filings with the financial database PitchBook and the Federal Election Commission.

The document shows that two PACs, Conservatives for a Strong America and Wyomingites Defending Freedom and Democracy, paid i360 to help place pro-Cheney ads via text messages. Axios reported that the leader of Wyomingites Defending Freedom and Democracy is former Trump White House aide Julia Griswold Dailer, who did not return a request for comment.

A nonprofit partially funded by Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity, paid i360 $11 million for data services, according to the nonprofit’s 2020 tax disclosure.

While Koch did not endorse Trump during either his 2016 or 2020 campaigns, his political network worked with the Trump administration to support some of the former president’s key initiatives, including cutting regulations on businesses and sweeping tax cuts.

Americans for Prosperity recently ran an ad campaign targeting Democratic lawmakers, including moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., to oppose the more than 400-year Inflation Reduction Act. billion dollars, which President Joe Biden signed. law this month.

FEC records show that i360 also worked this election cycle with Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom Trump endorsed for the open Pennsylvania Senate seat, as well as Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., who voted to impeach the former president and lost in the last primary.

Representatives for the pro-Cheney PACs, Koch Industries, i360 and Americans for Prosperity did not return requests for comment.

After this story was published, Americans for Prosperity spokesman Bill Riggs took issue with the article’s headline and noted that the group did not work on the Wyoming House race between Cheney and Hageman.

“This is clickbait. The headline doesn’t match the facts in the article. AFP and AFP Action have endorsed in over 300 races this year — the Wyoming House race was not one of them. The midterms are less than three months away. That’s the focus our only, not a presidential race more than two years off,” Riggs said in an email Tuesday.

A Koch Industries spokesperson told CNBC in an email after this story was published that i360 has over a thousand customers and that anyone using their product does not imply an endorsement or endorsement.

“The reality is that i360 has over a thousand customers, most of which are B2B [business to business], along with countless political campaigns and organizations, and that includes a number of candidates supported by former President Trump as well as those he has opposed. The use of the latest i360s data technology does not imply an endorsement or even special support,” the spokesperson said.

Trump and the Koch family have not always been close, even after the former president passed long-sought tax cuts and appointed several conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices. Trump blasted the Kochs in 2018, saying in a tweet that they are a “total joke in real Republican circles, they are against strong borders and strong trade.” The Koch Network did not help Trump in what would be his failed 2020 re-election bid against Biden.

People close to Trump told CNBC that the former president and those associated with him may move to stop future work with those employed by Cheney’s team.

FEC filings show that one of the Cheney campaign’s top vendors in the 2022 election cycle was a company called Red Right Media. That company was paid more than $1 million for advertising and media services by Cheney’s campaign during her 2022 primary, including more than $300,000 in July, according to FEC disclosures.

Although it doesn’t appear to have a public website, Virginia business records say Red Right Media is an alternate name for a company called X/Roads Communications. According to state business records, X/Roads Communications is run by Mike Dubke, a veteran Republican strategist who once worked in the Trump White House as communications director. Dubke was a managing partner of X/Roads Communications before taking the role with Trump in 2017, according to financial disclosures filed while leading the White House communications team.

Dubke resigned from the White House communications post in 2017 after less than 100 days on the job. Since then, Red Right Media has been paid millions of dollars by Republican groups for consulting work, according to records from the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets. Records show a super PAC called DefendArizona paid more than $4 million for Red Right Media’s services.

The super PAC supported Martha McSally when she ran a failed campaign against Sinema during the 2018 election. DefendArizona was funded in part by Citadel CEO Ken Griffin and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky.

Black Rock Group, a media consulting firm Dubke co-founded that is not affiliated with investment firm BlackRock, was previously paid more than $100,000 by Cheney’s campaign in 2018. Dubke and Black Rock Group did not return requests for comment.

Other former Trump consultants who worked with Cheney during her run and who have previously helped Trump include SCM Associates, a fundraising and direct mail consulting group based in New Hampshire. Cheney’s campaign paid more than $600,000 for SCM’s help with direct mail advertising. The Trump campaign paid SCM more than $8 million during the 2020 election cycle, according to campaign finance records.

TAG Strategies, a political marketing firm that worked for Trump on the 2020 campaign and several of his endorsed midterm candidates, was paid almost $380,000 by the Cheney campaign for digital and marketing services, including more than $100,000 in May, according to FEC data. The Trump campaign paid TAG Strategies more than $200,000 during the 2020 election cycle.

Erin Perrine, a vice president at TAG who also worked on communications for Trump’s re-election bid, told CNBC in an email that the firm’s work for Cheney was a “one-off service at one point during the primaries.” She said “TAG is a Republican firm and we work for America first, conservative and center-right candidates.”

SCM did not return a request for comment.

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