PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has a plan for helping the new administration: Sue the government.
The government needs to move quickly, he told a large gathering of wealthy conservative and libertarian donors gathered in California, to send power back to the states and deregulate the economy. The problem is how slowly Washington, D.C. moves, and how the administration is tied up in bureaucracy. But if states, which know which regulations affect them hardest, sue, that would give the feds the power to simply settle and withdraw the reg.
“If a state would bring a suit against a regulation, it gives the federal government the opportunity to withdraw that regulation.”
This, he told donors and reporters, “will give the government the ability to move quickly on deregulation.”
Hawley was joined onstage by Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, and Doug Ducey of Arizona. The panel, moderated by CNN’s Hot Air editor Mary Katharine Ham, was held on the second day of a regular meeting of donor organized by billionaire libertarian philanthropist and industrialist Charles Koch.
“I like President [George W.] Bush but… look, they screwed it up,” Rauner told attendees, echoing a common center-right gripe that Bush did not do enough to decentralize government. “Send power back to the states.”
“When [Trump] picked [former Indiana Gov.] Mike Pence as his vice president, he told us a lot about what [power] he’s going to be pushing [back to the states],” Ducey said. “We have a Trump administration and Department of Justice that would like to get rid of broad swaths of [regulation].” (RELATED: As Trump Presidency Dawns, Kochs Plan To Bring Hundreds Of Millions To Bear On Next Two Years)
“There’s a hunger for people to do what they said they were going to do,” Walker weighed in. “One of the trends out there is not just trying to figure out who to believe, but having public servants out there who actually do what they say…. they do the things they talk about.”
Held twice a year, the weekend meeting is a gathering place for the Seminar Network, a large group of wealthy donors interested in libertarian and conservative causes. This weekend’s seminar, held in the temperate desert outside of Los Angeles, is the first since Trump’s election and inauguration. (RELATED: Kochs Come Out Against Trump Travel Ban)
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. (RELATED: As Trump Presidency Dawns, Kochs Plan To Bring Hundreds Of Millions To Bear On Next Two Years)
And after scaling back early projections on their spending during the 2015-2016 cycle, the Seminar Network intends to ramp up spending on work to build grassroots networks and impact U.S. policy. That spending is expected to rise from the $250 million in the 2015-2016 cycle, to an estimated $300-400 million in the 2017-2018 cycle. (RELATED: Mike Lee Is Certain The Senate Will Confirm Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee)
The Seminar Network is co-chaired by Charles Koch Institute President Brian Hooks and Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries. 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 David told reporters. There is also a larger press presence than any previous conference has allowed.
Other elected officials in attendance included Republican Sens. Ben Sasse, Mike Lee, James Lankford, Pat Toomey and David Perdue, as well as Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Marsha Blackburn. All elected officials attending the seminar were Republicans.
Editor’s Note: Christopher Bedford was a fellow at the Charles Koch Institute in 2010.