Gov. Doug Ducey, elected last year with the help of a group linked to the Koch brothers, is headed to California this weekend to meet with them again along with some of their wealthy colleagues.
Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato confirmed that Ducey is flying to Dana Point, Calif., for the annual summer conference of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.
The organization, which acknowledges its link to David and Charles Koch, is going to be hosting presidential contenders Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, all of whom hope to be the beneficiary of the millions of dollars the pair are expected to pour into the 2016 campaign.
“He’s not running for president, I’ll tell you that,” said Scarpinato. Ditto, he said, vice president. But he said Ducey is attending because the event at Dana Point is about more than presidential politics.
“This conference is an opportunity to engage with other advocates of limited government and free enterprise including national leaders, elected officials from all over the country, business leaders,” Scarpinato said.
But Ducey’s ties to the brothers predates his election.
Last year he attended a retreat hosted by the brothers where he was taped saying, “I can’t emphasize enough the power of organizations like this.”
And during the campaign, American Encore put more than 750,000 into ads targeting Democrat candidate Fred DuVal and spent another $650,000 promoting Ducey.
That group is the successor to the Koch brothers financed Center to Protect Patient Rights run by Phoenix political consultant Sean Noble. The group is organized under federal tax laws as a “social welfare” organization and does not disclose its donors.
In fact, its ties to Ducey and Arizona politics actually go back three years to when Ducey was leading the campaign to defeat Proposition 204 which would have implemented a permanent 1-cent sales tax, largely to fund education.
Americans for Responsible Leadership put $500,000 into killing that 2012 ballot measure. But facing charges of violating campaign finance laws in California, former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, head of that group, had to reveal its money came from the Center to Protect Patient Rights – now American Encore.