A new super PAC launched this month to support the campaign of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is getting serious help from billionaire energy mogul William Koch.
The contributions, channeled to the America 360 super PAC through a donation by Koch's energy company, Oxbow Carbon LLC, are listed at $500,000, according to a report by the Public Campaign Action Fund. America 360's only other receipts listed on the FEC report are two separate $25,000 donations, one from a former top Goldman Sachs executive, the other from a Boston-area real estate developer.
Brad Goldstein, a spokesman for Oxbow Carbon, said the giving isn't intended to be partisan. "We give to a lot of senators. We've given to [Democrat Bill] Nelson down here in Florida. We give to Democrat and Republicans. To quote the president, America isn't a red state or a blue state, it's red, white and blue," he told The Huffington Post.
Brown, said Goldstein, won Koch's support because he is a more business-friendly candidate. "We don't think he'll overregulate business into another depression. That's essentially why we're supporting him," he said. "Scott Brown has been willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats. He seems to be much more moderate [than Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren], less ideological, certainly much more pro-business. And for us that's important. We want to see the economy functioning well again ... and then we can employ more people."
America 360 made its first foray in favor of Brown last week, when the group spent around $200,000 on mailers accusing Warren of favoring higher taxes, more spending and increasingly burdensome regulations. Warren has frequently targeted Brown for his support for continued oil subsidies, a significant issue for the Koch family considering their billions of dollars of interests in the industry.
Bill Koch, the twin brother of David Koch and younger brother of Charles Koch, is estimated to be worth $4 billion. His siblings are more well-known for their extensive contributions to Republican causes, but Bill Koch has given $3 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future through his privately held companies -- Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon.
Oxbow Carbon also made headlines last week when a former executive for its international arm sued Koch, alleging that the billionaire had lured him to his secluded ranch, where he claimed he was interrogated and held against his will, before being fired and escorted back to San Francisco by an agent he believed to be armed.
The plaintiff, Kirby Martenson, alleged that his termination was related to information he had been given about a supposed plan by Oxbow to evade taxes on some $200,000,000 in profits. Oxbow claims that Martenson was complicit in a scheme to defraud the company, and had already mounted legal action against their former employee based on those charges.
America 360's entry in the race marks the latest effort by third-party groups to circumnavigate an anti-outside money pact agreed to by both Warren and Brown. While their agreement held that no outside groups could air TV or radio advertising, independent mailers have emerged as a favorite loophole. MassLive.com recently reported that the biggest spenders include the pro-Warren League of Conservation Voters, which has already spent $700,000 on a direct mail campaign, and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which has shelled out $378,000, mostly on mailers supporting Brown.