Billionaire Koch brothers network unveils phase one of multimillion-dollar ad campaign against Trump's tariffs

Key Points
  • Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are unveiling a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against President Trump's tariffs.
  • The first phase of the ad campaign, which is funded by the Koch network's Freedom Partners organization, will air on TV and radio starting Monday.
  • The campaign will call on Congress to support free trade policies and abandon Trump's protectionist goals.
David and Charles Koch.
Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

The political network funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are unveiling their first phase of a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against President Donald Trump's tariffs.

Freedom Partners, an organization that's part of the influential Koch network, is launching a six-figure television and radio ad campaign that will target the import tariffs being implemented by the Trump administration. The ads will also call on Congress to embrace free trade and not follow the course of the current White House trade policies.

"To keep growing, we must keep trading," the ad says. "Tariffs are not the answer. Tell Washington: Support Freedom. Oppose Tariffs."

The TV ads are set to air in the Washington, D.C., area while radio will be broadcasted on national and conservative talk radio programs across the country starting Monday.

Freedom Partners, along with two other Koch network groups — Americans for Prosperity and the Libre Initiative — are sending a letter to Congress on Wednesday asking them to support the Global Trade Accountability Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. The legislation requires Congress to review and approve any tariffs that are proposed by the executive branch.

"Tariffs are taxes that make Americans poorer. They raise our cost of living and force higher expenses on our businesses. Just consider the working families paying much more for a new washing machine or the locker manufacturer that now must consider outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas," James Davis, vice president of Freedom Partners, said in a statement. "These ads are an important part of our overall campaign, which also includes significant plans for grassroots mobilization and public education," he added.

The announcement of the first phase of the Koch network campaign comes two days after Trump ordered the United States Trade Representative to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 percent.

On Monday, the White House said the new trade barriers will go into effect "if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced."

Previously, the administration had announced a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese products. China President Xi Jinping responded with a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion of U.S. goods.

Allies also haven't fared well under the Trump tariff policies.

Canada, Mexico and the European Union were recently hit with a 25 percent tariff on steel goods and 10 percent on aluminum products.

Canada has retaliated with equal trade levies while Mexico has imposed tariffs against a variety of U.S. exports valued at $3 billion.

The E.U. is moving ahead with a response. It has said it could slap trade duties on products from Harley Davidson motorcycles to jeans.