You Don’t Dress Down For a Koch Donor Conference

You may recall that Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz appeared on a panel weekend before last at a Koch Network retreat (Scott Walker also showed up to pay his respects to his patrons, but didn’t make it to the panel). A straw poll showed Rubio as the favorite of these moneybags, with Paul drawing decidedly mixed reviews. At the time it seemed Paul’s non-interventionist leanings were the problem But now Politico‘s Kenneth Vogel and Tarini Parti suggest there was another issue with Paul:

The Kentucky Senator and prospective GOP presidential candidate — whose libertarian politics mesh with those of the billionaire mega-donor brothers Charles and David Koch — appeared at the annual winter meeting of the Koch donor network wearing a boxy blue blazer, faded jeans and cowboy boots.

Some attendees commented that Paul’s appearance was “cavalier,” said Frayda Levin, a Paul supporter and major donor who attended the conference at the Ritz Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California. It was organized by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the non-profit hub that oversees the Koch network. “This is an older crowd and much more establishment crowd. They are used to a Romney. They are used to a Jeb Bush,” Levin said.

“Jeans might work for a younger audience,” said another attendee, “but these are old bulls who put on a tie every day to go to the office.”

Yeah, I can see how these dudes (I’m assuming this was an overwhelmingly male audience) who identify the care and expense one takes getting dressed as “respect” might feel offended by Paul looking like he just rolled out of bed. But as someone whose career probably suffered from an incorrigible inability to internalize the concept of “business casual” (one reason I’m very happy to work from home these days), I can empathize with Paul as well. That’s why politicians have staff: to tell them, “No, Senator, not the scruffy jeans today.”

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.