Koch Brothers-Tied Ad Mentions Hillary Clinton for First Time

The Koch brothers have pledged to stay out of the presidential race.

— -- A Koch brothers-funded group may be staying out of the presidential race -- but they’ve started to leverage it in down-ballot races.

A new television advertisement from Freedom Partners, a group partially funded by the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, is trying to boost Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s reelection bid in Ohio by tying his opponent, Democrat Ted Strickland, to Hillary Clinton.

It’s the first Koch-tied ad to reference the presidential race this year. The Koch brothers have so far said they are staying out of the presidential race with Donald Trump as the nominee, instead focusing on down-ballot races.

“Seeing Ted Strickland stand with Hillary Clinton after what she said really hurts us here in the coal industry,” says Josh W. from Cadiz, Ohio, featured in the ad.

The ad also plays part of a controversial Clinton comment from a town hall in March. “We’re gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” she said.

A spokesman for the group explained why it's linking Strickland to Clinton in a press release. “As we have said before, we are not engaging in the presidential [race],” said James Davis in a statement. “However, showing how Ted Strickland has been a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton’s job killing agenda is the most relevant and impactful message in this state.”

FEC records shows that Charles Koch has given the group $6 million already this election cycle, with other major GOP donors also pitching in to help fund the group.

The group played a major role in funding the 2014 Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate and the Koch brothers helped bankroll Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in 2012.

The group is also releasing a second ad in Ohio and a third ad in Nevada, totaling a $2.2 million buy.