Pence Meets Privately With Charles Koch as Big GOP Donors Convene in Colorado

Vice President Mike Pence met privately Friday evening in Colorado with Charles Koch as a weekend summit of donors led by the billionaire industrialist convened at a time of angst and uncertainty about the early months of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Pence, who has long ties to Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch, also attended an evening fund-raiser for Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado at the resort where the network will hold a three-day conclave starting Saturday. The vice president wasn’t expected to speak to the full gathering of Koch donors.

After meeting briefly one-on-one, Pence and Koch were joined by several others for a discussion about a variety of issues, including potential changes to the tax code, according to Bill Riggs, a spokesman in the network.

Two of those who joined the roughly 45-minute session were Marc Short, a former top Koch official who’s now the White House legislative liaison, and Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-affiliated political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.

Under different circumstances, the gathering of wealthy donors at the five-star Broadmoor resort might have been a time to celebrate policy victories harvested from Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. Instead, Trump is embroiled in multiple investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion by his campaign.

‘More Progress’
Other than the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, filling a seat vacant for over a year, the network has little to show so far for its investments in recent years. Obamacare remains law, there’s been little progress on overhauling the nation’s tax system, and there’s a distinct possibility trade will become more restrictive, counter to the Koch preference for free markets.

James Davis, the spokesman for the Koch political network, downplayed the notion that the Trump administration hasn’t accomplished much yet from the group’s list of goals, pointing to a reduction in “burdensome regulations” and discussions about changing the tax system. “There’s been more progress in the last six months at the federal level than there has been in last 10 years,” he said.

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SOURCE: Bloomberg, John McCormick