Monday, August 11, 2014

Koch Brothers Spend Millions on Group Aiming to Teach Hispanics Republican Party, Conservative Views

As the number and influence of Hispanics increases in the United States, billionaires Charles and David Koch are partially funding efforts to help persuade the community to favor the Republican Party's conservative views.

Hispanics traditionally do not identify with the Republican Party, according to The Associated Press. In 2004, the group was about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, but have recently strayed further from the GOP. In 2004, Hispanics represented 8 percent of U.S. voters, and Republican George W. Bush won 44 percent of their votes. In 2012, however, Hispanics represented 10 percent of votes and Democrat Barack Obama won 71 percent of their ballots.

The Libre (Free) Initiative, which the Koch brothers' political network has funneled millions of dollars into, hopes to win over the Hispanic community. The group was founded in 2011 and is "501(c)4 non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower the U.S. Hispanic community," according to its official website. It also aims to encourage Hispanics to support a limited government and economic freedom. Various classes on family-owned businesses and "prayer breakfasts with Hispanic pastors" help this, AP reports.

The group has also been tackling immigration reform. In 2012, The Libre Initiative spent almost $1 million on the issue, Yahoo reported. After the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America, the group has been fundraising for in Tucson, Arizona and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, according to AP. The money is given to the children held in federal detention centers.

"If they support immigration changes so that more people can get their papers in order, then I'm with them," Elda Guevara, a 45-year-old Democrat, said.

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