TAMPA, FLA. – Two major financial backers of conservative political causes, Art Pope and David Koch, were feted Thursday afternoon at a reception just blocks from the Republican National Convention.
Pope, a Raleigh retail executive, and Koch, a Kansas industrialist, were honored by Americans for Prosperity, an organization they started and which they both continue to serve as top officers – Pope as chairman and Koch as the foundation's chairman.
The event drew several hundred people who thanked them for the support including three Republican senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Boozman of Arkansas, and Jon Kyle, the Senate Republican whip from Arizona. Also present was Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, the 4th ranking Republican in the House. Representing North Carolina, were both leaders of the state legislature, Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Both Koch and Pope spoke briefly to the group.
Pope told the group what while he is a Republican – he is attending his fourth national convention – he sees Americans for Prosperity as a nonpartisan effort to spur both political parties to adopt pro growth policies. He said 25 percent of AFP members in North Carolina are Democrats and another 25 percent are unaffiliated.
“AFP is about driving home the issues that insures freedom and prosperity and holding officials in both parties accountable on how they stand on those issues,” Pope said.
In an interview, Pope said he contributed the maximum amount to the Republican National Committee and to the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But he said he would not disclose the scope of his other contributions until after the election, as required by law.
Koch called Pope “a great leader” of AFP, which now counts 2 million members.
Koch said that he was very concerned that the deficit would cause runaway inflation and “this country will see a terrible collapse. I don't want to see this country to collapse like what Greece is doing.''