First on CNN: Koch operative leaves group amid tumult

Published 7:39 PM EDT, Tue September 1, 2015

Story highlights

Evan Feinberg, who was the president of the youth engagement arm of the Koch Brothers' political network, has departed the organization

About 55% of the organization has left their jobs since late November, according to a comparison of staff lists on the organization's website

(CNN) —  

The president of one the top nonprofits bankrolled by Charles and David Koch has left the organization to start another major group in the powerful Republicans’ orbit, CNN has learned.

Evan Feinberg, who since 2013 was the executive director of Generation Opportunity, the youth engagement arm of the Koch Brothers’ political network, departed the organization in June. He will now lead a new group to be called Stand Together for America. Feinberg’s move is the most high-profile loss in what people familiar with Generation Opportunity describe as a string of senior level departures that are roiling the nonprofit group.

“I made the difficult decision to leave Generation Opportunity because I was really excited about a new project that I’ll be leading,” Feinberg said Tuesday, declining to unveil specifics about the new group he’s moving to. “I look forward to telling the world about it.”

A senior director within the Koch network said the group would be a “third leg” of the Kochs’ organization focused on winning over moderate voters, along with voters generally disengaged from politics. Donors were briefed on the group at the last two conferences organized by Freedom Partners, the umbrella funding organization at the heart of the network.

“The goal of it going forward is reaching out to what is termed the middle third of voters,” said the senior director. “It’s going to be a major effort.”

Feinberg’s departure is one of many from Generation Opportunity: About 55% of the organization has left their jobs since late November, according to a comparison of staff lists on the organization’s website. The senior director within the Koch network said the departures claimed senior staff in nearly every cluster and that total amount of recent departures could amount to as much as two-thirds of the staff.

The Kochs have assembled field, data and digital organizations that some believe to rival that of the Republican National Committee. The brothers’ network, which meets semi-annually to raise money and discuss new ventures, is expected to dedicate $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections.

The Koch political network funds several nonprofit groups that appeal to various slices of what could be a conservative movement, such as the Libre Initative, which spreads their message to Latino populations, and Concerned Veterans for America, which mobilizes members of the Armed Forces. Generation Opportunity aims to organize conservatives between the age of 18 and 34 and has staff in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan.

People described the organization, started in 2010 and one of the newer groups in the Koch constellation, as struggling to lift off the ground and dogged by group-culture problems. Koch officials sought to give Feinberg a soft landing with a new assignment rather than relegating him outside the network, sources said.

In 2014, the nonprofit group brought in Logan Moore, a longtime Koch hand, to help stabilize the organization – he remains a senior director at the group today.

Andrew Clark, a digital operative at their data firm i360, took over for Feinberg at Generation Opportunity in July.

He declined to comment on the staff turnover.

“I’m excited about the new direction in which Generation Opportunity is headed,” Clark said in a statement. “We expect to have a significant impact moving forward.”