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748 0 0 0 2. 624 0 0 0 1. 47 0 0 0 13 6. 5 0 1 0 6. Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, on Feb 27, 2007. Just days after word emerged that the billionaire Koch brothers will spend nearly a billion dollars to elect conservatives in the 2016 elections, Charles Koch sent a top adviser to Washington to urge Republicans to work with Democrats on a key issue: criminal-justice reform.

Justice reform is not a cause for which the Kochs are normally in the news. The billionaire brothers are known for their lavish giving to conservative candidates and causes, for which they are celebrated on the right and reviled by the left. But for more than a decade, the Kochs have quietly pumped several million dollars into efforts to fix a criminal-justice system that many on both sides of the aisle believe is broken. Now the Kochs are teaming up with some unlikely allies on the left in hopes of rectifying the problem. And their presence in the emerging bipartisan coalition for justice reform underscores the issue’s rare—perhaps unique—status as a cause that has united liberals and conservatives in an era of bitter partisanship. Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel at Koch Industries, tells TIME.

It’s sweeping in a lot of unusual, non-traditional allies, and I think it’s a good thing. Holden was standing on Wednesday under the glittering chandeliers and Corinthian columns of a caucus room in the Russell Senate building, where he had just wrapped up a prison-reform discussion organized by The Constitution Project. The event offered the rare tableau where a bipartisan group of activists gathered in Washington to agree on policy, rather than fling accusations. The motley panel included liberal and conservative senators and congressmen, activists and commentators, who warmly complimented one another’s leadership.

The oddball pair seemed bemused at the strange alliance. It’s easy to see why the issue attracts both sides. There are some 4,500 federal criminal laws on the books. More than half of the federal prison population consists of nonviolent drug offenders. David Keene, a longtime conservative activist. We’ve come to the conclusion that we have to work together.