PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. — The sprawling libertarian Koch network came out against Trump’s executive order banning travel from certain high-risk countries, emailing reporters that it “is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Institute and co-chairman of the Koch’s far-reaching Seminar Network, said. “The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.” (RELATED: Three Republican Senators Kick Off Koch’s First Massive Donor Conference In Age Of Trump)
“Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”
Hooks and Koch are currently with hundreds of conservative and libertarian donors at the network’s conference in Palm Springs. Held twice a year, the seminars are a gathering place for the Seminar Network, a large group of wealthy donors interested in libertarian causes. This weekend’s seminar, held in the temperate desert outside of Los Angeles, will be the first since Trump’s election and inauguration. (RELATED: Mike Lee Is Certain The Senate Will Confirm Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee)
The network spent hundreds of millions on advertising and advocacy for limited-government politicians — namely, Republicans — running for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, but notably stayed out of the presidential primaries and race. The network is co-chaired by Charles Koch Institute President Brian Hooks and Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries. (RELATED: As Trump Presidency Dawns, Kochs Plan To Bring Hundreds Of Millions To Bear On Next Two Years)
Donors and speakers have expressed cautious enthusiasm for Trump’s announced plan to cut regulation, but have come out strongly against the proposed border-adjustment tax.
Called “A Time to Lead,” the meeting is hosted at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa, and is focused on local, grassroots initiatives Americans can take in what Hooks called “the key institutions of society”– “education, community, business and government.” (RELATED: Charles Koch Calls For Action: ‘We Might Not Have An Opportunity Again Like We Have Today’)
There are around 550 individuals included in the “principals” network meeting, which requires at least $100,000 donation to the network. In addition to these invited people, there are approximately 150 staff and speakers, Seminar Network spokesman James Davis told reporters. There is also a larger press presence than any previous conference has allowed. (RELATED: Want Drug-Sentencing Reform? Look To Mike Pence, Congressman Says)
Editor’s Note: Christopher Bedford was a fellow at the Charles Koch Institute in 2010.