A political nonprofit associated with the Koch brothers that funneled more than $200 million to like-minded groups in 2012 will begin airing TV ads in Colorado and Iowa, according to ad documents posted today.
Airing ads marks an important switch for Freedom Partners, which Politico described as “The Koch Brothers’ Secret Bank,” when the group filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service last year revealing the extent of its activities.
IRS rules allow political nonprofits like Freedom Partners to hide their donors, but the grants that they dole out must be disclosed in year-end tax filings. Freedom Partners effectively went public late last fall by filing its first year of tax returns, which included grants of $115 million to the Center to Protect Patients Rights, $32 million to Americans for Prosperity, and $16 million to the 60 Plus Association.
Since this disclosure, Freedom Partners has added a website, and even biographies for its directors. Wayne Gable, the only director Freedom Partners disclosed in returns covering the year ending Oct. 31, 2012, is described as a former “managing director of international government affairs at Koch Industries.”
Freedom Partners’ relationship to its grantees is unclear. One grantee, The 60 Plus Association, has apparently upset some of the right-leaning industrialists by failing to get permission to air an ad that opposes scrapping the publicly-held mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, according to a story reported last week by the Associated Press. The story quoted unnamed advisers as saying the ads sentiment wasn’t shared by the Kochs’ closest political advisers.
The Denver ad attacks Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. for supporting Obamacare. Udall is in a tight race for re-election this year. Another Koch-backed group, Americans For Prosperity, aired ads knocking Udall similarly last month.
The Freedom Partners ad buy is relatively modest for an organization whose only tax return reported $255 million in revenues. Scheduled to begin tomorrow, the ad buy will cost about $46,000, run through April 28, and reach viewers of “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” on KMGH. It’s unclear if the ad will appear on other TV stations in Denver or in other markets.
Update: Freedom Partners is also buying air time to attack Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley for the same three-week period in Iowa. The Daily Caller reports the total ad buy is $1.1 million, split between attacks on Udall and Braley.
Freedom Partners did not immediately return a call for comment.