60 Plus Association
Follow the money in the Koch wiki.
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The 60 Plus Association describes itself as "a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues" and lists ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities. It was founded in 1992 and is registered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit with the Internal Revenue Service. Between 2010 and 2012, it received more than $42 million from organizations, most of which are affiliated with the Koch brothers, including Freedom Partners and American Encore.
In 2016, the FEC issued $233,000 in fines to 60 Plus and two other organizations funded by the Center to Protect Patient Rights over a complaint that the groups had "illegally hid[den] the source of the funding for their political ads" in 2010, as described by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed the complaint.
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 2014 Election Activity
- 3 Influencing the 2012 Election
- 4 FEC Fine over 2010 Activities
- 5 Finances
- 6 Opposing 2010 Healthcare Reform
- 7 Positions on Energy and the Environment
- 8 Response to Hurricane Katrina
- 9 Ties to Right-Wing Direct Mail Firm
- 10 Public Relations
- 11 Lobbying and Political Donations
- 12 Personnel
- 13 Contact Information
- 14 Articles and Resources
Ties to the Koch Brothers
As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the 60 Plus Association is not required to disclose its donors. However, 60 Plus has received funding from organizations with links to the Koch brothers. According to its own tax filings, Freedom Partners reported giving $15.7 million to 60 Plus in 2012. The Koch-linked organization American Encore (formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights) reported giving $2,6 million to 60 Plus in 2012, $2.4 million in 2011 and $9 million in 2010.
2014 Election Activity
In April 2014, the 60 Plus Association made a $1.6 million TV and radio ad purchase attacking seven senators on the Senate Banking Committee for supporting a measure to scrap Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, including Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). While the ad stated the plan amounted to a "takeover of the mortgage industry", Politico reported that the plan "represents a centrist approach in which the government will still play a role in supporting the mortgage market but less of one than it does today."
Despite 60 Plus receiving funding from the Koch brothers, an anonymous official with the Koch-funded Freedom Partners group admitted to Politico that they were not informed about the ad and were frustrated by it.
Influencing the 2012 Election
While the 60 Plus Association claims to be non-partisan, it endorses almost exclusively Republican candidates, and generally runs attack ads aimed at Democrats. During the 2012 Election cycle, the 60 Plus Association focused mostly on Senate races, attacking Tim Kaine of Virginia with a $770,000 ad campaign in late August. The group also made ad buys totaling $1 million against Democrats Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and $1.1 million against Bill Nelson in Florida. The group also ran a $545,000 ad campaign against Democrat Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. Their ads generally target the candidate for supporting the Affordable Care Act, which they claim robs medicare of hundreds of billions of dollars, putting seniors at risk (when in fact the medicare "cuts" are a cost-saving measure supported by many Republicans, including the 2012 Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan). 
FEC Fine over 2010 Activities
In 2016, the FEC issued $233,000 in fines to 60 Plus and two other organizations funded by CPPR over a complaint that the groups had "illegally hid[den] the source of the funding for their political ads" in 2010, as described by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed the complaint. 60 Plus's share of the fines totaled $50,000. The other organizations fined were American Future Fund ($140,000) and Americans for Job Security ($43,000). Altogether the three ran tens of millions of dollars in ads during the 2010 election cycle but did not report who funded their ads. CPPR did not report any political spending.
Read 60 Plus's Conciliation Agreement here.
The 60 Plus Association is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, meaning it does not have to disclose its donors despite spending millions to influence elections. Some of its donors have been discovered by analyzing their IRS filings. The organization has received millions from organizations linked to the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers.
Out of the disclosed contributions to the group in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, $2.4 million came from the Koch-backed Center to Protect Patient Rights (now known as American Encore), and $15.7 million from Freedom Partners.
In 2010, its largest known donor was the Center to Protect Patient Rights, another 501(c)4 that acted as a conduit for around $55 million in secret funding distributed to other nonprofit groups that attacked Democrats in the 2010 elections. The CPPR gave the 60 Plus Association $8.9 million in 2010, well over half the group's 2010 operating budget.
The 60 Plus Association has grown considerably in recent years:
For fiscal year 2011 (July 2011-June 2012), the 60 Plus Association reported $11.8 million in revenue and $11.6 million in expenses, with assets totaling $1.2 million. It paid Mentzer Media $6.1 million for media services.
For fiscal year 2010, 60 Plus reported $16,009,993 in revenue and $15,532,676 in expenses. They listed their largest single program expense as $13,444,014 toward "Providing Educational Awareness about the effect of Health Care Reform for seniors" 
For fiscal year 2008, 60 Plus reported $1,919,575 in revenue and $2,624,432 for expenses (including $441,180 for administrative costs).
For fiscal year 2006, 60 Plus reported $303,275 in assets, $1,897,258 in income and $1,811,895 in expenses. The organization's single biggest expense was "postage and shipping," at $473,996. The same year, 60 Plus reported $15,196 in income from list rental.
Pharmaceutical Industry Money
The 60 Plus Association is described in an article posted November 1, 2009 on FireDogLake.com as a Big Pharma front group. FireDogLake reported that the group has "ties to the national GOP" and is heavily "funded by the pharmaceutical industry." The 60 Plus Association is reported to have been a front for Big Pharma since its inception. The 60 Plus Association has championed the pharmaceutical industry in mass mailings, press releases, lobbying and law suits since its inception. It was one of three associations that backed the "astroturf" issue ads of Citizens for Better Medicare (a drug industry front group) during the 2000 elections.
In 2002, 60 Plus fought state legislation that would create formularies, or lists of preferred, lower-cost prescription drugs for Medicaid patients. 60 Plus fought "such legislation in Minnesota and New Mexico," with assistance from the Bonner & Associates firm, which specializes in astroturf lobbying. "The firm's paid callers, reading from scripts that identified them as representatives of 60 Plus, urged residents to ask their governors to veto the legislation. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. later said it had paid Bonner & Associates to make the calls," reported AARP. At the time, 60 Plus president Jim Martin denied "anyone was misled. 'The callers had an outline,' said Martin. 'This is an important issue that impacts people's health.'" 
"In its 2001 fiscal year, 60 Plus got a total of $275,000 from PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), CBM (Citizens for Better Medicare) and three drug companies (Merck, Pfizer and Wyeth-Ayerst) plus another $300,000 from Hanwha International Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of a Korean conglomerate with chemical and pharmaceutical interests -- amounts that made up about 29 percent of its revenue," reported AARP.
60 Plus supported a lawsuit by PHARMA against the state of Maine (in a "friend of the court" brief) for daring to try to pass a law that will authentically reduce prices for Medicare drugs by allowing the state to buy in bulk directly from manufacturers. It has also joined a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission regarding campaign reform (specifically in support of soft money for issue ads).
In the 2002 election campaigns, 60 Plus paid for issue ads on local radio and TV stations across the country saying that local Republican candidates "care for seniors" so much that they "passed a prescription drug bill" that "saved us from an inept government bureaucracy meddling with health plan benefits."
Opposing 2010 Healthcare Reform
Television ads claiming that the Obama administration plans to fund healthcare reform on the "backs of seniors" started appearing in August 2009 in California markets, including Los Angeles. The televised ad makes the following claims among others: "Congress plans to cut 500 Billion from Medicare," "Seniors May Lose Their Own Doctors," and "The Government, Not Doctors Will Decide if Older Patients are Worth the Cost," The ad ends by saying "Tell Congress, Don't pay for Health Care Reform on the backs of Our Seniors. They've sacrificed enough." The ads clearly state "Paid for by 60 Plus Association" and display the www.60Plus.org website at the end.
The ads claims that the Affordable care act makes massive cuts to Medicare and weaken the institution, a claim that has become a favorite line of attack for the organization, and the Republican Party as a whole. It has been refuted by numerous fact-checking organizations including Media Matters and Politifact
In 2009, 60 Plus also sent out mailings warning "that the proposed Medicare changes will mean 'longer wait times at hospitals and doctors offices, less money for new treatments, restrictions on care, prescriptions and what's best for you -- the patient!'"
60 Plus has rallied against previous healthcare reform efforts. In 1999, it claimed that the Clinton Administration's effort to provide a prescription drug benefit to Medicare beneficiaries" was "socialized medicine." 60 Plus' Roger Zion told the National Journal, "We have the best Medicare system in the world, and these people want to destroy it." He also claimed that the "prescription drug benefit would cripple pharmaceutical research and ultimately undermine the quality of health care in the United States."
60 Plus was a member of "Citizens for Better Medicare," an industry-backed effort opposing Medicare reform that spent tens of millions of dollars on ad campaigns in 1999 and 2000. Other "Citizens" members included the Seniors Coalition, United Seniors Association, PHARMA, National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A "Citizens" press release from September 2000 stressed "the need to add a private sector-based prescription drug benefit to Medicare," rather than a public -- or, as the press release called it -- a "big government plan" that would supposedly cause "many patients and senior citizens [to] lose their current private prescription drug coverage, have their access to the life saving medicine jeopardized by bureaucrats and see important drug research reduced."
Positions on Energy and the Environment
The 60 Plus association is a member of the "Cooler Heads" coalition, a network of climate change denial groups that includes Americans for Prosperity, the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Heartland Institute.  The coalition is managed and financed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The 60 Plus Association has spoken out against EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas producers numerous times: "going forward all nominees to the EPA will be thoroughly vetted on their views," Jim Martin, chairman of the organization suggested in 2012, "to ensure that environmental extremists and disciples of the phony global warming agenda do not serve within its walls." . The 60 Plus association also opposes any attempt to regulate offshore drilling  or decrease energy subsidies. 
Response to Hurricane Katrina
In September 2005, 60 Plus was part of a consortium of conservative groups -- along with the National Tax Limitation Committee, American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform -- to call for "a measured response to [Hurricane] Katrina ... and a continuation of sound tax and regulatory policies." Under the banner of the "Tax Cut Working Group coalition," the groups "urged President Bush and Congress to emphasize private sector initiatives in the hurricane relief effort, and not abandon his agenda of tax relief in the wake of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina." The coalition's open letter on the matter stated, "While Katrina's effects have been vivid and widespread, this event should not serve as an excuse to change national policy priorities, nor to further dissipate the federal treasury. ... On-going tax rate reductions and Social Security reform should not be sacrificed on the altar of Katrina or 'deficit reduction.'"
Ties to Right-Wing Direct Mail Firm
60 Plus chair James L. Martin worked for Republican direct mail guru Richard Viguerie. "It has been reported that the group's contract with Viguerie's firm allows it to use 60 Plus's contributor list 'in any manner, for any purpose, for its own account,' at least until 2003," reported AARP. In 1994, Viguerie "helped 60 Plus raise $1.3 million, but the organization was left with less than $93,000 after paying fees and expenses (including postage) to Viguerie's operation."
"The Seniors Coalition, 60/Plus and USA all have faced controversy because of their connections to Viguerie," the National Journal reported in 1995. "The Virginia-based direct-mail impresario helped launch all three groups, securing unusually tight control over their mailing lists. ... A federal grand jury in New York City began a probe of Viguerie in 1993, after The New York Times ran an article detailing how he had profited from his work for seniors' groups. ... Why set up three seniors' groups that share much of the same conservative philosophy? Critics say it was for one reason: to put more money in Viguerie's pockets. But leaders of USA and 60/Plus say they are proud of their association with Viguerie, who continues to handle their mailings. ... 'He's the finest, most decent human being I've ever known,' [60 Plus' James] Martin said of Viguerie. Martin proudly points to a passage in Viguerie's 1980 book, The New Right: We're Ready to Lead, that cites Martin as 'one of the conservative movement's foremost direct-mail copywriters.'"
Yet, according to Target Marketing, the "main provisions of an agreement between the charity 60/Plus Association and direct marketing" meant that, "[u]nder the terms of the contract, Viguerie, a for-profit agency, took in money while the non-profit 60/Plus went deeper into debt, presumably with most of that debt accruing to Viguerie & Associates." 
Hugh C. Newton served as a public relations consultant to 60 Plus. Newton -- who ran his own PR firm, Hugh C. Newton & Associates Inc., also worked for the National Right to Work Committee, Heritage Foundation, Liberty Foundation, Reader's Digest, Amway Corp. and the predecessor of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. 
Lobbying and Political Donations
As of July 7, 2014, the political action committee associated with 60 Plus had donated $8,500 to congressional campaigns for the 2014 midterms, entirely to Republican candidates or organizations. It had also spent $247,723 on independent expenditures, most of it against Republican candidates. During the 2012 election cycle, it made $26,000 in campaign contributions, all to Republicans and spent $4,615,892 on outside spending, with about 70% going toward Republicans and the remainder attacking Democrats.
60 Plus used to have a different PAC called the Senior Power Campaign Committee. That PAC, also called "Gray PAC," last reported financial activity in the 2004 election cycle.  It was most active in the 2000 election cycle, when it reported raising $246,514 and spending $231,203. The PAC donated $46,666 to federal candidates, 98% of which went to Republicans. It contributed more than $2,000 to Republican Senate candidates Rick Santorum, Rod Grams, and Slade Gorton; and to Republican House candidates E. Clay Shaw Jr., James E. Rogan, and Steven T. Kuykendall.
The 60 Plus Association disclosed the following officers and directors in its 2011-2012 IRS 990 filing:
- James Martin - Chairman, paid $179,500 in fiscal year 2011. Martin claims to have given "George W. Bush his first political job ... way back in 1967."  Martin also "credits himself" with coming up with the phrase "death tax," as part of efforts to repeal the estate tax. 
- Amy Noone Frederick- President, paid $150,692 in fiscal year 2011
- L. Prather McKinnon - Director
- Randy Randall - Director
- Gary Hoitsma - Director
- Bill Card - Director
- Jim Minarik - Director
- Robert Martin - Director
60 Plus Association
515 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 807-2070
Fax: (703) 807-2073
Email: info AT 60plus.org
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Koch Brothers
- Koch Family Foundations
- Americans for Prosperity
- Freedom Partners
- Cato Institute
- Heritage Foundation
- Koch Universities
- Koch Network
- Knowledge and Progress Fund
- American Encore
- Donors Capital
- 60 Plus
- Generation Opportunity
- Astroturf Marketing
- Citizens for Better Medicare
- Front groups
- Health care
- Pfizer Inc
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
- United Seniors Association
- Richard Viguerie
- Senior Coalition
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