Billionaire Koch duo target education, crime with new group: USA Today

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Billionaires Charles and David Koch, the Republican brothers who are a driving force behind conservative politics and election financing, are launching a new group to target social issues such as poverty and education, USA Today reported on Friday.

Organizers said the goal is to raise $15 million this year for the group, which aims to partner with private organizations to tackle problems such as poverty, gang violence and repeat criminal offenders through grants or other investments, the newspaper said.

The five-person group, called Stand Together, plans to reveal more details about its plans at an annual gathering near Palm Springs, California, of hundreds of Koch donors that is scheduled to open on Saturday, USA Today said, citing interviews with the group's leaders.

It is not clear how much of their personal funds the brothers will give the social issues group, the newspaper said.

Representatives for the Kochs could not be immediately reached to comment on the initiative. Evan Feinberg, the group's executive director, on Friday tweeted that its website had officially launched.

The Kochs are among the best-known conservative donors and have spent millions to influence U.S. elections, using their wealth from Koch Industries Inc, a U.S. conglomerate that is the nation's second-largest private company, and running their nonprofit political group Americans for Prosperity.

While their efforts to create an initiative aimed at social issues has been in the works for months, its formal launch comes amid active campaigning in a crowded field ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

While so far issues such as immigration and security have dominated the presidential campaign, other domestic issues could eventually come to the forefront.

The libertarian-leaning brothers have not endorsed a candidate among the 12 Republicans seeking the party's nomination.

According to USA Today, their latest nonprofit could use its funding in a variety of ways, from offering scholarships to providing support to other nonprofit groups.

(Reporting by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

SAP is the sponsor of this coverage which is independently produced by the staff of Reuters News Agency.

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