Top Pence ally joins Koch Brothers in Washington

INDIANAPOLIS - A former top aide to Gov. Mike Pence has left a job in Congress to go to work for a company whose owners could play a crucial role in any White House bid by the Indiana Republican.

Matt Lloyd, a longtime spokesman for Pence during his time in Congress, is going to work for Koch Industries as their communications director in Washington. The company's owners, Charles and David Koch, are prolific donors to conservative candidates.

Lloyd most recently worked as U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman's chief of staff, but before that spent 10 years working closely with Pence. Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said Lloyd will start June 25.

The move comes as Pence is considering a run for the White House in 2016. Pence's supporters in Washington have been talking him up as a strong conservative candidate, but Pence has said he hasn't made any decisions.

If he does run, the oil magnate Koch brothers likely would play an integral role. The pair has spent heavily backing conservative candidates on the national level and have supported Pence at the state level.

The Kochs gave Pence $200,000 for his 2012 governor's race, and the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity fought Indiana House Republicans last year when Pence's proposed income tax cut ran into opposition.

Pence has stoked the White House speculation the last few months with a handful of high-profile moves, some of them awkward for a Midwest governor. On a trade mission to Germany, Pence criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the crisis in Ukraine in a heavily publicized speech.

The Republican governor also used his rollout of a proposal to expand health insurance for low-income residents to garner some national attention. Pence also jumped into the health care battle at the Virginia Statehouse, urging House Republicans there to oppose an expansion being pushed by Democrats.

Pence is headlining a pair of Republican fundraisers out of state later this month. He will speak to New York Republicans at their summer fundraiser June 26, an event David Koch is sponsoring, and will rally Alabama Republicans June 20.

The Alabama Republican Party played up Pence's potential in a message to supporters touting his appearances.

"With just two years as Governor, Pence has already established himself as a proven chief executive and the political pundits are talking again about him as a candidate for President in 2016. With experience in D.C., and now as Governor, he would be a very formidable candidate," the state party wrote on its website.

However, Pence has yet to check off some key boxes for any aspirant, including making stops in key primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, often telltale signs of a candidate's political ambitions.

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