Fredreka Schouten,USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has not taken a position on Republican efforts to defund President Obama's health care law as a condition of reopening the government, a top company official said in the letter sent Wednesday to senators.
Company officials believe the 2010 health care law will increase deficits and taxes and "lead to an overall lowering of the standard of health care in America," but have not "lobbied on legislative provisions defunding Obamacare," Philip Ellender, the company's top lobbyist, said in the letter.
However, the CEO of Heritage Action, a leading group pushing the effort to strip money to pay for the Affordable Care Act from the budget, told reporters Wednesday that his group had received $500,000 from the Kochs. Michael Needham said the donation was not the largest contribution to the organization, and he declined to identify other contributors.
"I'm not going to talk about who my donors are," Needham told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. He did not specify whether the Koch donation came from corporate or personal accounts. Heritage Action operates as a non-profit organization and does not have to publicly disclose its donors.
Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, is part of a coalition of conservative groups that helped craft the legislative strategy that made derailing the health care law a condition of approving a continuing resolution to keep the government running. The group organized activists in nine cities during the August congressional recess to challenge Republican lawmakers to defund the law as part of any stopgap spending measure.
On Wednesday Needham said addressing the health care law should be a condition of any stopgap spending bill that ends the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
"The only acceptable way out of this is some sort of deal that funds the federal government without funding Obamacare," he said.
In his letter to the Senate, Koch's Ellender said the company wanted to address "false information" after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took the floor Tuesday to criticize the Kochs as "very rich people in American who don't believe in government" and have used the health care law "as a conduit to shut down the government."