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Democrat Maggie Hassan has gone on the attack against Republican rival Kelly Ayotte in the race for U.S. Senate. Recently, Hassan accused Ayotte of siding with billionaires Charles and David Koch while representing New Hampshire in the Washington.
"During her first four years in Washington, Sen. Ayotte voted with the Koch brothers nearly 90 percent of the time," Hassan said at a recent Democratic unity breakfast.
It’s a line straight from one her ads that aired earlier this month.
Politifact decided to take a look.
The Koch brothers have become well known-names in politics. The men own Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan.-based parent company of several manufacturers and energy companies, like paper maker Georgia-Pacific and refinery Flint Hill Resources.
But they have also waded in politics. The brothers’ financial backing helped to found Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group that has spent millions backing Republican candidates in New Hampshire and other states.
The brothers have never been elected members of Congress, nor have they ever cast a vote on the bills that came before Ayotte, a first-term U.S. senator elected in 2010.
But the Koch Brothers know how to let their positions be known. Through a collection of organizations funded with their own money and contributions from donors, they wield massive political influence.
Their funding and influence rivals the official Republican Party itself, and their aim is to "fundamentally reshape American public life around a libertarian-infused brand of conservatism," according to Politico.
Hassan’s camp pointed us to the flagship of the Koch brothers political network, Americans for Prosperity, and the organization’s scorecard, which ranks lawmakers votes "for economic freedom" each session.
AFP favors limited government, low taxes and less regulation. It ranks senators votes according to those stated goals, and picks votes for its scorecard that relate to federal spending, energy, entitlements and taxes, among other issues.
Ayotte received a 89 percent score from AFP in the 2011-2012 session after voting for bills "to reduce spending back to 2008 fiscal year levels" and to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and against a bill increasing taxes on oil and gas companies, according to the scorecard.
Ayotte received a 90 percent score from AFP for the 2013-2014 session.
Averaged together, those scores would come to 89.5 percent, or rounded up to 90 percent, which Hassan claims.
Hassan’s camp left out Ayotte’s most recent score, from the 2015-2016 session, in which the Republican received a 70 percent rating from AFP.
Even so, the scorecard isn’t a vote-by-vote grade. It’s not like AFP tallied the results of 100 votes and agreed with Ayotte 90 percent of the time. The organization scored her and all Senators on a sampling of votes in line with its agenda.
Many other votes Ayotte took never registered on the scorecard and could have run afoul of the opinions of either Charles or David Koch.
So is it fair to equate the scorecard rank to voting "with the Koch brothers," as Hassan says?
AFP’s Luke Hilgemann works with the group’s "federal affairs team," led by AFP Vice President of Government Affairs Brent Gardner and his staff, to pick votes that are included in the scorecard. "No other parties are involved in that process," said spokesman Levi Russell, director of public affairs. "Charles and David Koch do not play a role in developing the AFP scorecard."
Hassan said Ayotte voted with the Koch brothers "90 percent of the time" during her first four years in Washington.
Ayotte earned a 90 percent rating during those years from an organizations the Koch brothers helped to found, Americans for Prosperity. But, the men don’t vote in the U.S. Senate and the organization said the brothers don’t play a direct role in choosing the votes.
Further, Hassan only cited Ayotte’s first four years in office, ignoring her most recent grade.
We rate the claim Half True.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, Speech at New Hampshire Democratic Party unity breakfast, Sept. 15, 2016.
Americans for Prosperity, Scorecard.
Politico, How the Koch network rivals the GOP, Dec. 30, 2015
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