If the 2016 election were held today, one of the vaping industry’s most loyal political allies, Sen. Ron Johnson, would lose by huge margins. If current polling is accurate, his Democratic opponent Russ Feingold seems to be reaping the rewards of a growing Anti-Trump backlash that is threatening a wide range of down ticket Republican races. And Johnson’s is long considered to be the most vulnerable along with Sen. Mark Kirk’s of Illinois.
In perhaps a last ditch effort to help the Wisconsin senator, the somewhat controversial Koch Brothers are planning to infuse the Johnson campaign with a whopping $1 million for new advertising. Charles and David Koch are 74-year old twins who are also two of the world’s richest billionaires. Their company, Koch Industries, is the second-largest privately held company in the United States.
With so much money and power at their disposal, the Koch Brothers are often accused of trying to influence political elections by making massive campaign contributions to their favorite political candidates. Luckily for Sen. Ron Johnson, he just happens to be one of them. According to the Wisconsin Daily Independent, Johnson votes 91% of the time to align with legislation supported by the Koch Brothers, which begs the question: Do the Koch Brothers vape?
Who is Sen. Ron Johnson?
Many consumers of e-cigs and vaping devices may not be aware of the tremendous support that Sen. Johnson has shown to the vaping industry in recent months. When the FDA deeming regulations were first announced on May 5, 2016, legislation that threatens to bankrupt the entire vaping industry, it was Johnson who issued a series of at least three letters to the FDA demanding more information.
(Related Article: WISCONSIN SENATOR RON JOHNSON FORCES FDA TO EXPLAIN DEADLY E-CIG REGULATIONS)
The first letter was ignored, but Johnson pressed on. After sending a second, more urgently worded letter, the FDA finally responded. But Johnson was still not pleased, and he immediately shot back by calling the FDA letter an “insufficient response.” As the Chairman for the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Sen. Ron Johnson is refusing to let the FDA off the hook, which is why the Badger State politician is so beloved by the vaping industry.
Who are the Koch Brothers?
The Koch Brothers tend to support more Republicans than Democrats, especially for Presidential campaigns. But when Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, even the Kochs were rather surprised. In the 2012 election, David and Charles Koch spent $400 million on campaign contributions. For the 2016 election, they were planning on spending $889 million across several races, but Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency isn’t one of them.
(Related Article: SEN. RON JOHNSON & FDA E-CIG REGULATIONS: WHAT HAPPENED WITH ‘THE LETTERS?’)
So, why are the Koch Brothers finally getting involved in the reelection of Sen. Ron Johnson at this late date? By most accounts, the Kochs are spending their nearly $1 billion on down ticket races in an effort to maintain a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. Donald Trump’s recent blitzkrieg of controversial comments regarding Gold Star Families, crying babies during speeches, sexual harassment in the workplace, and a host of other missteps in the press have hit Ron Johnson’s campaign particularly hard. But when Trump initially refused to endorse fellow Wisconsinite and House Leader Paul Ryan last week, this was the final blow, and the Koch Brothers immediately took notice.
The Trump Effect
In the aftermath of the Ryan non-endorsement, the Republican Party quickly began talking of a Trump “Intervention.” Others were even looking into ways to get Trump kicked off the ticket permanently. And when Trump visited Wisconsin for a political rally later that week, neither Ryan nor Johnson showed up to the event.
As the presidential rhetoric grew uglier and uglier, many feel that the Kochs finally took pity on Sen. Johnson by sending him the $1 million in new campaign contributions. Perhaps the vaping industry should be courting the Kochs for financial support, too. After all, if we want to win the War on Vaping, a million dollars goes a long, long way.
(Related Article: THE TRUMP EFFECT: ‘E-CIG’ SENATOR RON JOHNSON FACES RE-ELECTION TURMOIL)