COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Top officials in the political empire affiliated with conservative billionaire Charles Koch on Saturday praised President Trump’s move to roll back environmental regulations and appoint conservatives to the federal bench — in the latest sign that leaders of the influential network are finding common cause with the new president and his team.
“Overall, we’ve made tremendous progress on the federal level that we haven’t been able to make in the last 10 years,” James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network, told reporters Saturday.
Other officials praised Trump’s efforts to dismantle rules regulating emissions from fossil fuel-powered plants and his signing of a law Friday making it easier to fire problem employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The network also announced a new grassroots effort in 36 states to build voter support for Trump’s tax cut plan.
Their growing optimism came as Koch and the hundreds of donors in his network kicked off a three-day retreat at a luxury Rocky Mountain resort to strategize about policy fights in the months ahead and plot their moves to expand the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections.
Eighteen Republican officials, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and governors of Texas, Kentucky, Arizona and Missouri — also were slated to speak.
Koch’s view extends far beyond government and politics — with major network operations focused on education and programs to spread his free-market, up-from-bootstraps principles into broader parts of public life. The network, for instance, announced a new three-year, $21 million initiative with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders to fund anti-poverty programs in Dallas.
Sanders mingled with wealthy donors Saturday night on the lawn of the luxury Broadmoor resort here and posed for a…