- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - In a story May 24 about a new chapter of a political advocacy group linked to the Koch brothers, The Associated Press reported erroneously the age of group director Evelyn Everton. She is 38, not 22.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Group linked to billionaire Koch brothers opens Utah chapter

Group linked to libertarian billionaire Koch brothers launches chapter in conservative Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The main political advocacy group for the libertarian Koch brothers has opened a chapter in Utah, though it will likely stay out of elections in the state dominated by Republicans who already share many of the values espoused by the influential billionaires.

Americans for Prosperity announced this week that the new chapter will be based in the Salt Lake City area. The group will work on issues like Medicaid expansion and tax increases rather than backing specific candidates, new state director Evelyn Everton said.

The group generally stays out of Republican primaries, where many Utah races are decided.

“To be honest, I have a hard time believing we’ll really get involved in very many campaigns,” Everton, 38, told the Deseret News (https://bit.ly/1c5LAZ2). “We’ll certainly be educating Utahns on the values and the issues we are concerned with, but that’s not going to relate to an election.”

The group’s goal is to build a grass-roots network to push for free markets, lower taxes and limited government, she said.

Republican consultant LaVarr Webb welcomed the group but said outside advocates aren’t likely to have a big influence on the state party’s direction.

“It’s always good to have lots of different voices. But I don’t think it’ll have a lot of impact on Utah politics,” Webb said. “It’s hard to find targets for them.”

One possible target, he said, could be Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who has advocated hard for Healthy Utah, his alternative to Medicaid expansion.

“It would be interesting if they went after Gov. Herbert,” Webb said. “I don’t think they would be successful.”

State Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon, meanwhile, said Utah is already conservative. He doesn’t expect the group to make much headway in the Democratic voting pool.

“It would be scary if people think Republicans in Utah aren’t conservative enough, if they’re trying to make this state even more conservative and right-wing,” he said.

Rather than convincing Democrats to change their stripes, the new chapter could be looking to bring Republicans who are starting to drift back into the fold, said Tim Hagle, a Republican political science professor at the University of Iowa. Elsewhere in the country, the group has helped conservative candidates by holding Republicans’ feet to the fire, he said.

In Utah, the group is setting up an office and making plans to hire a full-time director and three part-time associates. They’re also looking at starting a second office later this year, possibly in Utah County, Everton said.

While David Koch is the chairman of the board of Americans for Prosperity, Everton said that he and brother Charles Koch are just two of the tens of thousands of people who donate to the group.

“We have 2.3 million activists across the country, so this is a much larger organization than just two people,” she said.

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