Koch network says no ties to new ACU chief

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Koch Industries is distancing itself from Matt Schlapp, the new chairman of the American Conservative Union, who used to run the Washington political shop for the network of companies and political organizations associated with Charles and David Koch.

“We wish Matt the best of luck in his new role,” said Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries. “We have no working relationship with Matt and we haven’t for a few years.”

Mr. Schlapp, a former political director for President George W. Bush, worked as executive director of federal affairs for Koch Industries from 2005 to 2009, but left and founded his own firm, Cove Strategies, in 2009. He lobbied for Koch Companies Public Sector through 2010, according to disclosure records, but has not done work for Koch since then.

He was elected chairman of the ACU, which is best known for its scorecard of congressional members’ voting records and for staging the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Mr. Holden said Mr. Schlapp is in no position to know the workings or decisions of Koch Industries‘ operations at this point. Indeed, it sounds like relations between the two parties are strained.

“We’ve heard from multiple people that Matt has been disparaging us,” Mr. Holden said.

In an emailed statement late Monday, Mr. Schlapp said he valued his time working for the Koch family.

“I have always taken great pride that Koch Industries is headquartered in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas,” he said. “On a personal level, I have known Charles, Liz and Chase Koch since I was a teenager and I hold them in high regard. Charles is one of the most successful CEO’s of his generation, but much more importantly what struck me was their dedication to their children. Chase has grown up to be a real credit to his parents. I am proud that they hired me to run their Washington D.C. office, and I made lifelong friends during my four years there. I wish the Koch family all continued personal and professional success.”

Mr. Schlapp was elected ACU chairman on Thursday.

Mr. Schlapp didn’t respond to messages sent to Cove Strategies seeking comment. He was elected ACU chairman on Thursday.

That same day, ACU board member Cleta Mitchell resigned from both the ACU board and the board of the ACU Foundation.

“I wish them all the luck in the world — and just hope that Matt will follow David Keene’s example over many, many years of not allowing or doing anything that could be perceived as using ACU for personal business opportunities,” Ms. Mitchell said in an email referring Mr. Keene, a former long-time chairman who is now editor of the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

Ms. Mitchell, though had praise for the new day-to-day operational chief.

“I want to specifically say that Dan Schneider, the new Exec Director, is a gem and a true conservative. ACU is fortunate to have Dan and he has all the capability in the world to keep ACU on the right path. Certainly for the sake of the conservative movement, I am hoping that is what happens,” she said.

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