Charles and David Koch are known as bigwigs in conservative politics. The efforts of these extraordinarily rich brothers and their network have pledged nearly $900 million toward political influence and are said by Politico to have “an infrastructure that rivaled that of the Republican National Committee.”
They spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fight climate change science, government-sponsored healthcare, and regulation of big business, so it seems like they should be able to get along with the the Trump White House. But on at least one issue, they have starkly different views.
At a three day retreat for one of their umbrella organizations, Mark Holden, a top leader in the Koch network and general counsel for the brothers, told reporters that the network is very unhappy with the direction the Trump administration has been taking the drug war, as reported by the Denver Post. “You are never going to win the war on drugs,” he said. “Drugs won.”
In particular, Holden and the Kochs are none too pleased with Attorney General Jeff Session’s efforts to move on state-sanctioned medical marijuana businesses. He wrote a letter to Congress last month asking them to free the Department of Justice to prosecute legal cannabis providers.
The Koch’s brand of conservatism leans a little more heavily into the libertarian end of things than do Trump’s and Session’s, it seems, favoring little interference from federal government in state rights and general criminal justice reform.
Holden said at the retreat that medical marijuana “should be off-limits” to federal prosecutors. “I’m not here to say our position is legalize drugs or anything else,” he clarified, “But I don’t think that we should criminalize those types of things and we should let the states decide.”
He added that Session’s stance on marijuana was not pragmatic, but “based on fear and emotion in my opinion.”
Koch and company’s displeasure with Session’s drug policy and the government’s controversial health care bill could lead to a rift in the Republican party during the upcoming midterm elections, when the Koch network plans to spend $300 to $400 million on campaigns and other politically influential activities.