A Koch puppet is someone who adopts or modifies political positions due to a desire to benefit from dark money flowing from the Koch brothers' wealthy network of organizations and co-donors. The Koch brothers (one of the two brothers, David, died in 2019) are estimated to have more money than Bill Gates, and unlike Gates, the Koch brothers spent enormously on politics and the Koch network continues to exert too much influence
Some Koch puppets are exposed by campaign or lobbying disclosure requirements, but most them are secret recipients—or wannabe recipients—of Koch funding. As talk radio has declined, most national talk radio hosts have become Koch puppets based on prior or hoped-for funding by the Koch brothers.
The game played is a deceitful one, as the politicians will not admit that their positions are dictated by the Koch brothers when, in fact, the positions are. The politicians end up saying one thing privately, and then something else public. They attend secret meetings with the Kochs.
At the state level, Koch puppets promote the Convention of States, which advances the Koch brothers' dream of rewriting the U.S. Constitution. At the federal level, Koch puppets are typically anti-Trump. They typically take instructions from the Koch brothers concerning replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis - lavishly funded by the Koch network yet failed to help Herschel Walker in his tight race in next-door Georgia in 2022.
- Vice President Mike Pence - met secretly with Charles Koch on June 23, 2017, concealing it from Pence's publicly released schedule.
- U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) - quit the U.S. Senate to take a $10M contract with unusual benefits as University of Florida, perhaps facilitated by Gov. DeSantis or his top staffers as part of the Koch network
- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
- U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
- former U.S. Senator Jim Talent