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Koch network endorses Nikki Haley for president as it looks to stop Trump

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley posed for photos after the Republican presidential debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on Nov. 8.Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

The powerful political network led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch endorsed Nikki Haley for president on Tuesday, as it looks to stop former president Donald Trump from being the Republican nominee.

Americans for Prosperity Action, the network’s flagship political group, revealed the group’s first endorsement of its type in a presidential race. In 2015, the Koch network identified five approved presidential candidates, all of whom fell to Trump.

"AFP Action is proud to throw our full support behind Nikki Haley, who offers America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era, to win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November," Emily Seidel, senior adviser of the group, wrote in a memo. "Haley will have the full weight and scope of AFP Action's unmatched grassroots army and resources to help her earn the support of Americans to become the next President of the United States of America."

The endorsement comes just under seven weeks before the first nominating contest in Iowa, with Trump in command of the race there and in other early states. Haley, the former UN ambassador and governor of South Carolina, has gained momentum in the Republican primary and has in many ways surpassed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the top alternative to Trump. She is pitching herself as the most capable general election candidate, with some polls showing her outperforming rivals against President Biden.


But Trump is still far ahead in polls of the Republican race, leaving questions about how effective the move will be by the Koch network and other anti-Trump entities entering the fray late in the race. Other influential Republicans seeking to stop Trump have weighed in on the race this fall, including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who endorsed DeSantis in recent weeks and has since appeared with him on the trail in support of his bid. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, another Trump critic, has suggested he will soon make an endorsement of either Haley, DeSantis, or former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.


While Haley has been ascendant in the Republican race, there are some doubts in the party about the strength of ground operation, particularly in Iowa, where organizing for the Jan. 15 caucuses is seen as key. Tuesday's endorsement is notable for its potential to amplify her ground efforts, since AFP has established a sophisticated ground operation in recent years.

The group promised to employ "the largest grassroots operation in the country and a presence in all fifty states," in support of Haley. While it declined to answer how much it will spend to help Haley, the super PAC spent more than $69 million in the 2022 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures.

The group weighed backing DeSantis before deciding to support Haley. Its decision is another blow to the Florida governor, who has been struggling to gain traction in recent months.

“Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different,” DeSantis spokesperson Andrew Romeo said in a statement.

Haley is out of step with the Koch network on some issues, including foreign policy. Seidel emphasized that no candidate would be 100 percent aligned and focused on its shared economic goals. She also praised Haley's "courage" in advocating for changes to entitlement programs, something that separates her from some rivals and especially Trump.



Santos faces another attempt to expel him from House

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday moved to force a vote this week on whether to expel Representative George Santos of New York from office, a strategic effort to prevent Republican leadership from slowing any bid to push one of their own out of office.

The effort, led by Representatives Robert Garcia of California and Dan Goldman of New York comes shortly after another resolution introduced this month by the Republican chair of the House Ethics Committee, following its scathing report that found “substantial evidence” Santos had violated the law.

When the ethics chair, Representative Michael Guest of Mississippi, introduced his resolution on Nov. 17, he did so without attaching a timeline. Since then, Republicans have debated whether to shield or expel Santos, aware that either path could come with grave costs.

But the resolution from Democrats is privileged, meaning that Speaker Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, must address it within two days. Republicans could still move to table or postpone the vote, moves that would each require the support of a majority of the House. Those maneuvers would not rule out a vote on Guest’s resolution, however, if Republican leadership chooses to act on its own party’s motion to lessen the appearance of Democrats forcing the GOP’s hand.

Johnson refused to answer questions about Santos’ future as he entered the chamber Tuesday afternoon.


Santos has survived two expulsion efforts after numerous reports in The New York Times and other publications exposed his fabricated life story and federal prosecutors charged him with 23 felonies. Removing Santos from the House would requite a two-thirds supermajority.

Santos has pledged to remain in office as long as he is allowed. He called the ethics report a “smear” but has declined to offer any details that would support his claims.

For a moment Monday, however, it appeared as if Santos might have shifted his stance.

Johnson told reporters in Florida that he had spoken at length with Santos “about his options,” comments that suggested Santos might spare the House a difficult vote by resigning.

But Santos, who has repeatedly said he would not resign, clarified in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had no intention of stepping down.

“Expel me and set the precedent so we can see who the judge, jury and executioners in Congress are,” he wrote. “The American people deserve to know!”


James Taylor to host fund-raising concert for Biden in Boston

Six-time Grammy Award winner James Taylor is hosting a concert for President Biden on Dec. 5 in Boston, according to an invitation seen by Bloomberg News, part of a fund-raising push for the campaign ahead of a potential rematch with Donald Trump.

Taylor, 75, played at the White House last year for an event to celebrate Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act.


Documents of Ohio governor subpoenaed in lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s governor and lieutenant governor have been drawn into a FirstEnergy Corp. investors lawsuit connected to the $60 million bribery scheme concocted by the Akron-based energy giant and a now-incarcerated House speaker.


Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, received a subpoena for documents in the case dated Nov. 17, according to a copy provided to the Associated Press by his office on Tuesday and first reported by cleveland.com. His spokesperson, Dan Tierney, said the governor’s lawyers are reviewing the order.

It seeks any communications DeWine might have had with FirstEnergy, executives named in the lawsuit, or Sam Randazzo, the state’s former top utility regulator, that related to former House speaker Larry Householder’s efforts to secure the tainted $1 billion nuclear bailout legislation Householder championed in exchange for bribes and to a host of other related topics.

Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, also a Republican, received a similar subpoena on the same date — and, according to a court filing Monday, is scheduled to be deposed in the case sometime between Feb. 28 and March 19.