Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez secretly spoke to wealthy donors at the Koch brothers’ recently concluded summer gathering on the outskirts of Albuquerque.
The 2012 vice presidential candidate and No. 2 House Republican are return participants to the twice-annual seminar, which also drew wealthy donors and conservative nonprofit leaders including American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks.
The meeting featured some discussion of the unfolding GOP Senate primary challenges to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, but no consensus opinion emerged, a source who attended the event told POLITICO. The source said that Cantor and Ryan both delivered presentations that were well-received by donors, as was Brooks’s speech on work as a source of happiness.
A spokesman for Cantor’s office declined to comment, while Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to questions.
Rob Tappan, a spokesman for Koch Industries, the chemical, oil and manufacturing conglomerate controlled by Charles and David Koch, confirmed that the brothers held the meeting but declined to comment on specifics. The company has referred generally to past seminars as efforts to convene “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders whose companies have created millions of jobs” to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”
The invitation-only seminars bring together wealthy donors to mingle with, and hear presentations from, Republican elected officials, conservative dignitaries and leaders of right-leaning groups backed by the Kochs’ network. They usually run from Sunday through Tuesday morning, and take place under extremely tight security, with organizers and guests sometimes renting out every room in the host hotel.
The most recent conference appears to have taken place at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo, N.M., which was completely booked and had its entrances blocked to traffic, Albuquerque TV station KOB reported. A reporter was turned away at a checkpoint nearly a mile from the resort and the station tracked a tail number from a private jet in the area to Koch Leasing. More…