The Republican Party's biggest sugar daddies, the Koch brothers, are a mixed bag for the GOP: They bring money but lots of baggage. Their downside isn't only that they are a convenient foil for Democratic turnout but also that they could exacerbate tensions within the Republican Party.
For years, the party has maintained an uneasy and unlikely alliance among big business, social conservatives and anti-government libertarians. If you looked at these three groups on a Venn diagram, you would often find little overlap except in years when they have a shared enemy: Barack Obama, for example. Enter the Koch brothers and their agenda, which is transparently self-interested.
In an effort to respond to Democratic donor Tom Steyer's statement that he is different from the Kochs because he isn't looking for a quo for his quid, a Koch spokesman disputed this characterization of selfishness, pointing out that the brothers have long opposed tax subsidies for oil and gas interests, an example where their mouths oppose their money. But, of course, the Kochs don't spend money on campaigns designed to kill oil and gas drilling depreciation allowances. Instead, they are spending it to kill one of the most promising forms of alternative energy: solar. It is this anti-solar campaign that may awaken part of the Republican coalition and turn it against the brothers and their agents.