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By Byron Tau | 7/7/14 5:31 PM EDT
The energy company owned by Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch is throwing its support behind Rep. Mike Pompeo in a tight GOP primary.
In a statement to POLITICO, Koch Industries said it was supporting Pompeo over former Rep. Todd Tiahrt in a high-profile Kansas congressional race.
“KOCHPAC is proud to support Mike Pompeo for Congress based on his strong support for market-based policies and economic freedom, which benefits society as a whole,” Mark Nichols, vice president of government and public affairs for Koch Industries, told POLITICO.
The race between Pompeo and Tiahrt takes place in Koch Industries’ backyard. The Wichita-based energy company is headquartered in the district and the Koch family has deep ties to the state.
The primary pits two previously Koch-backed Republicans against each other.
Tiahrt represented the district in Congress from 1995 until 2011, when he mounted an unsuccessful bid for Senate. He was replaced by Pompeo — a businessman who has represented the district since 2011.
Tiahrt announced in late May that he was running against Pompeo to reclaim his old seat — citing a difference in “vision, issues, personality and public service” with Pompeo.
Both men have been the recipient of significant amounts of Koch Industries campaign cash in the past.
Koch Industries’ political action committee gave Pompeo the maximum donation of $10,000 in 2013 — before Tiahrt announced his intention to reclaim the seat. Company employees have given an additional $45,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Monday’s endorsement affirms the company’s ongoing support for the two-term Republican incumbent over his challenger.
But Tiahrt himself has picked up plenty of Koch cash over the years. The Center for Responsive Politics found that Tiahrt has received nearly $330,000 in Koch employee and PAC cash during his eight terms in Congress.
The GOP primary is set for Aug. 5.