- David and Charles Koch worth a combined $50billion
- Tea Party founders joined by 300 of America’s most rich and powerful
- Obama returns $200k from casino owner facing drug and fraud charges
By Lee Moran
Last updated at 4:00 PM on 7th February 2012
Republican supporters led by secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers have pledged to oust Barack Obama from power – by stumping up a $100million (£63million) war-chest.
David and Charles Koch, worth a combined $50billion, have been joined by 300 of America’s wealthiest businessmen in promising the cash to stop Obama from being re-elected.
They met at the conservative brothers’ annual three-day Californian retreat, where they gain pledges for non-profit groups that share their libertarian world view.
Brotherly ambition: David (left) and Charles Koch (right) are rallying America’s most powerful businesspeople to donate $100million to oust Barack Obama from the White House
But it is believed this is the first time the get-together has zoomed in one sole issue.
Sources said an ‘alpha-male’ mentality of beating Obama at this year’s election at all costs soon took over amongst the visitors.
Charles, 76, will put up $40million from his personal fortune, while David, 71, has pledged $20million to the battle.
As individuals can only donate $2,500 to a candidate, the $100million will almost certainly go to one of the independent Republican political action committees.
Competition: Democrat Barack Obama (left) will most likely be challenged by Mitt Romney (right) in the 2012 after the Republican won the last two primaries
While they are supposed to be neutral, the committees usually ally themselves to a particular candidate and then use the money to support them.
The brothers’ Americans for Prosperity PAC has already spent $6.8million on adverts attacking the president.
OBAMA RETURNS $200K DONATION FROM CASINO OWNER FACING DRUG AND FRAUD CHARGES
Barack Obama’s campaign is returning $200,000 in contributions collected by the family members of a Mexican casino owner who fled the U.S. after facing drug and fraud charges.
Obama’s team said it would return donations arranged by Chicago brothers Carlos Cardona and Alberto Rojas Cardona – brothers of casino owner Juan Jose Rojas Cardona.
He skipped bail in Iowa in 1994 and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico.
Campaign officials also said they would also return around $100,000 donated by other people connected to Cardona.
Spokesman Ben LaBolt said: ‘On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign.’
The pair have trodden a notoriously secretive path in amassing their wealth. But they started to gain more prominence when they helped launch the Tea Party movement.
They are ranked at numbers 18 and 19 on the Forbes 100 Rich List, and have given more than $100million to right-wing causes.
A total of $55million of that has gone in trying to discredit the science behind man-made climate change.
The brothers are co-owners of energy giant Koch industries, the firm founded by their father Fred in 1940, and have since expanded the business to 2,600 times its inherited size.
Initially involved in oil refining, the company is now one of the biggest firm in the country, producing well-known brands such as Stainmaster carpet, Lycra fiber, Quilted Northern tissue and Dixie paper.
They have two other brothers, 78-year-old Fred and 71-year-old William, who were all involved in litigation against each other in the 1980s and 1990s.
Obama raised $224.6million in 2011, more than the total gathered by all four of his Republican challengers.
But sources said Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has so far bankrolled Newt Gingrich for $10million, attended the event at the at the plush Renaissance Esmeralda resort, in California’s India Wells, for the first time.
And a group set up by George W Bush’s former special adviser Karl Rove has also set a fundraising target of $200million for the election.