Americans for Prosperity -- partly funded by Koch brothers -- launches Ky. operation, hires Julia Crigler as director

07/08/2014 10:42 AM

The Koch brothers are coming to Kentucky. Well, at least one of the groups they help fund is. And it plans to be in the Bluegrass for a long time.

The non-profit conservative policy and advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which is partially funded by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch, has hired Republican strategist Julia Bright Crigler as its state director. Crigler will launch an operation that will have two regional offices and a long-term presence in pushing for conservative changes, particularly in fiscal matters, in Frankfort and potentially local communities as well.

In an interview with Pure Politics on Tuesday, Crigler said pushing for state tax reform is the group’s top priority. Crigler will oversee the education and public advocacy efforts, such as ad campaigns urging Kentuckians to call their legislators and back tax reform.

That could also mean airing ads during the fall elections and beyond highlighting lawmakers’ support or past opposition to tax reform measures.

The group is highly to get involved in a Republican primary for governor and won’t be tied to any candidate, Crigler said.

Crigler said she is in the process of hiring two field directors. One will likely be based in Bowling Green. The other will be based out of an office either in Louisville or Georgetown, she said. The group also will hire part-time field assistants out of the regional offices.

Americans for Prosperity has both a nonprofit arm, set up as a 501(c )3 and an advocacy arm, as a 501(c )4. Crigler will be paid through the 501(c )3 except for when she is doing more political advocacy work, which she must account for. For that work, the 501(c )4 arm must reimburse the 501(c )3.

Crigler becomes one of Americans for Prosperity’s youngest state directors. She has been one of the up-and-coming Republican operatives in Kentucky since graduating from Western Kentucky University. She served as political director for the Republican House Campaign Caucus in 2012 when the caucus picked up several seats and before that worked on the campaigns for GOP secretary of state candidate Hilda Legg and Republican candidate for governor David Williams.

For the last two legislative sessions, Crigler has worked as a lobbyist for Marc Wilson’s firm, Commonwealth Capitol Group, out of Northern Kentucky. She is married to Chase Crigler, who works as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Northern Kentucky field representative.

Kentucky becomes the latest state in which Americans for Prosperity will get involved. It already operates in 34 others where it has been active in both elections and lobbying for conservative fiscal policy.

While the Koch brothers are the most prominent donors — cheered from the right and demonized by the left — other funders of the organization haven’t been disclosed because of its non-profit status.

It’s a spin-off of Citizens for a Sound Economy that began with four state affiliates in 2005, including in Wisconsin, as the National Journal reported last month, reported in a profile last month of the group’s strategy. By 2012, the group spent $122 million in the 2012 elections — mostly to defeat President Barack Obama.

Still, no races are too small for Americans for Prosperity. A July 6 piece in the Des Moines Register outlining the expanding agenda for the group in that state, for instance, mentioned that in 2012 it “failed to flip city hall seats in Coralville, but believes three of the four candidates elected in Ames share its agenda.” Americans for Prosperity also defeated a bond issue in one county for a new justice center and later lobbied the state legislature against a gas tax increase, according to the article by Jennifer Jacobs.

For more on the group’s goals, watch tonight’s edition of Pure Politics


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