American Conservative Union

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The American Conservative Union (ACU) describes itself as, "America’s premier conservative voice, ACU is the leading entity in providing conservative positions on issues to Congress, the Executive Branch, State Legislatures, the media, political candidates, and the public" [1] ACU's purpose is to effectively communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization. ACU's support of capitalism, belief in the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, confidence in traditional values, and commitment to a strong national defense, its website states. [1]

According to archived ACU pages, "Over the years, ACU has been on the cutting edge of major public policy battles. Among ACU's significant efforts, past and present, are fighting to keep OSHA off the back of small businesses, opposing the Panama Canal giveaway, opposing the SALT treaties, supporting aid to freedom fighters in Marxist countries, promoting the confirmation of conservative Justices to the Supreme Court, battling against higher taxes, and advocating the need for near-term deployment of strategic defenses," [2] The ACU is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN). [3]

The ACU is closely affiliated with the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), which is "a 501(c)(3) educational foundation that influences, converts and educates those who may not know they are conservatives as well as informing, inspiring and motivating those who know they are conservatives." [1] The ACUF is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN) [3] In July/August 2017, SPN featured the ACUF's Family Prosperity Initiative (FPI), which aims to show "the link between economic policy, social policy, and family prosperity variables at the state level." [4] The ACUF is scheduled to present their FPI study findings at the 25th SPN Annual Meeting on August 31, 2017. [5]

CPAC

According to ACU, "Every year since 1973, ACU proudly hosts CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, the nation’s largest gathering of conservatives. Taking place in Washington, D.C., each year, CPAC educates, brings together and energizes thousands of attendees, leading conservative organizations and speakers who impact conservative thought in the nation. From Presidents of the United States to college students, CPAC is the place to find our nation’s current and future leaders and set the conservative agenda each year." [1]

State Policy Network

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN's membership totals 153. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[6]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[7]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[8]

News and Controversies

In 2014, Koch Industries denied having a working relationship with ACU chairman Matt Schlapp, however financial records indicate that Koch Industries continue to financially support the ACU. [9] Matt Schlapp is a former Koch Industries Executive Director of Federal Affairs. [10]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

American Conservative Union (ACU)

In 2014, Koch Industries helped sponsor the ACU at two of their CPAC events, including ACU's“Top 10 Conservatives Under 40” event, [11] and the ACU's Executive Director's opening remarks for CPAC 2014. [12]

The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF)

According to the Charles Koch Institute website, in 2016, Pat Nolan, director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform collaborated with Vikrant Reddy, a senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute on a criminal justice reform initiative. Other members of the team included former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. [13] [14] [15] According to the Koch Institute website, Vikrant Reddy is a "senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute and former manager of Right on Crime—a project of TPPF, the American Conservative Union Foundation, and Prison Fellowship." [16]

Koch Wiki

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.

Ties to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation website features work done by the ACU & ACUF in several of their monthly ON-Lion Newsletters:

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Funding

American Conservative Union (ACU)

Between 2005 and 2014, the American Conservative Union received $445,825 in donations. [21]

Top Donors (2005-2014):


The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF)

Top Donors (2015):

Between 1998 and 2014, the American Conservative Union Foundation received $1,125,270 in donations. [25]

Top Donors (1998-2014):

Core Financials

American Conservative Union (ACU)

2015 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $9,130,446
  • Total Expenses: $9,075,427
  • Net Assets: -$734,671

2014 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $6,423,057
  • Total Expenses: $6,055,518
  • Net Assets: $530,224

2013 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $8,050,271
  • Total Expenses: $7,985,208
  • Net Assets: $226,621

2012 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $6,478,581
  • Total Expenses: $6,858,227
  • Net Assets: $198,865

2011 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $4,755,800
  • Total Expenses: $4,191,267
  • Net Assets: $598,341

2010 [27]

  • Total Revenue: $3,877,587
  • Total Expenses: $3,875,732
  • Net Assets: $36,965


The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF)

2015 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $2,610,461
  • Total Expenses: $1,894,416
  • Net Assets: $682,092

2014 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $881,049
  • Total Expenses: $1,855,873
  • Net Assets: -$33,953

2013 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $1,439,439
  • Total Expenses: $1,022,567
  • Net Assets: $801,219

Personnel

The American Conservative Union
Staff [29]

  • Hon. Matt Schlapp, Chairman
  • Dan Schneider, ACU Executive Director
  • Ian Walters, Communications Director
  • Zach Crandell, Creative
  • Chandler Ball, Communications Coordinator
  • Luke Schneider, Development
  • Carin Walters, Director of CPAC & Events
  • Grace Morgan, Deputy Director of CPAC & Events
  • Carly Conley, CPAC & Events Coordinator
  • Jackie Anderson, Director of Policy and Public Affairs
  • Michi Iljazi, Director of Government Affairs
  • Francis Finnegan, Government Relations Associate
  • Fred McGrath, Government Relations Associate
  • Susan Marshall, Executive Assistant
  • Ryan McGowan, Financial Manager

Board of Directors [30]

  • Alan M. Gottlieb
  • Amy Frederick, Secretary
  • Becky Norton Dunlop
  • Bob Beauprez, Treasurer
  • Carolyn D. Meadows
  • Charlie Gerow, Vice Chairman
  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
  • Ed Yevoli
  • Ed McFadden
  • Jackie Arends
  • John Bolton
  • John Eddy
  • Jose Cardenas
  • Kimberly Bellissimo
  • Larry Beasley
  • Luis Fortuno
  • Matt Schlapp, Chairman
  • Matt Smith
  • Michael R. Long
  • Mike Rose
  • Morton C. Blackwell
  • Muriel Coleman
  • Ned Ryun
  • Peter Samuelson
  • Priscilla O’Shaughnessy
  • Ron Christie
  • Ron Robinson
  • Sabrina Schaeffer
  • Stephen E. Biegun
  • Terry Schilling
  • Thomas Winter
  • Van D. Hipp, Jr.

Former Officers and Executive Staff:

  • David A. Keene, Chairman
  • Dennis E. Whitfield, Executive Vice President
  • Thomas S. Winter, First Vice Chairman
  • Donald J. Devine, Ph.D., Second Vice Chairman
  • Jameson Campaigne, Jr., Secretary
  • Tish Leonard, Finance Director
  • Diana Carr, Administrative Director
  • Lisa De Pasquale, CPAC Director
  • Larry Hart, Director of Government Relations
  • Lynn Bradshaw, Director of Development
  • Heather Madden, Deputy Director of Development
  • Vincent Galatro, Program Assistant
  • Jennifer Needam, Administrative Assistant
  • Elizabeth Neaton, Finance Assistant
  • Joseph Logue, Assistant to the CPAC Director

Former Directors:

  • Joe Bast (Chicago, IL)
  • Jeffrey Bell (Arlington, VA)
  • Morton Blackwell (Springfield, VA)
  • John Bolton (Washington, DC)
  • Floyd Brown (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Al Cardenas (Miami, FL)
  • Muriel Coleman (Madison,WI)
  • Tom DeLay (Washington, DC)
  • Becky Norton Dunlop (Arlington VA), VP, Heritage Foundation
  • Larry Eastland (Santa Monica, CA)
  • M. Stanton Evans (Washington, DC)
  • Alan Gottlieb (Bellevue, WA)
  • Van D. Hipp, Jr. (Washington, DC)
  • Suhail Khan (Washington, DC)
  • James V. Lacy (Monarch Beach, CA)
  • Wayne LaPierre (Fairfax, VA)
  • Michael Long (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Senator Serphin Maltese (Glendale, NY)
  • Carolyn D. Meadows (Marietta, GA)
  • M.J. Mintz (Washington, DC)
  • Cleta Mitchell (Washington, DC)
  • Steve Moore (Washington, DC)
  • Joseph Morris (Chicago, IL)
  • Grover Norquist (Washington, DC)
  • Ron Robinson (Reston, VA)
  • Allen Roth (New York, NY)
  • Matt Schlapp (Washington, DC)
  • Tracie Sharp (Richmond, CA)
  • Lewis K. Uhler (Roseville, CA)
  • Kirby Wilbur (Duvall, WA)
  • Thomas S. Winter (Washington, DC)


The American Conservative Union Foundation
Board of Directors [31]

  • Adam Laxalt
  • Carolyn D. Meadows
  • Charlie Gerow
  • Colin Hanna
  • Jonathan Garthwaite
  • Jose Cardenas
  • Kimberly Bellissimo, Secretary
  • Mary Matalin
  • Matt Schlapp, Chairman
  • Millie Hallow, Vice Chairman
  • Niger Innes
  • Randy Neugebauer
  • Thomas Winter
  • Van D. Hipp, Jr., Treasurer
  • Willes K. Lee

Contact Information

American Conservative Union

EIN: 52-0810813 (ACU)

1331 H Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-347-9388
Fax: 202-347-9389

Web: http://conservative.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACUConservative
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ACUConservative
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/the-american-conservative-union-4366a925


American Conservative Union Foundation

EIN: 52-1294680 (ACUF)

1331 H Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-347-9388
Fax: 202-347-9389

Web: http://acufoundation.conservative.org/
Blog: http://conservative.org/acu-blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACUFforJustice/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ACUFForJustice
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/the-american-conservative-union-4366a925

Books

  • Allan C. Brownfeld, The financiers of revolution: A special study of how foundations and organizations are using Federal "tax exemption" laws to promote political and social upheaval in America (American Conservative Union, 1969).

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 American Conservative Union, Who We Are, What We Do, What We Believe, ACU website, Accessed August 5, 2017.
  2. American Conservative Union, About Us: Overview, archive.org website , Accessed August 5, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 State Policy Network, Directory, Washington, DC: Associates", SPN website, August 5, 2017.
  4. State Policy Network, Associate Member Updates: July/August 2017, American Conservative Union, SPN website , Accessed August 5, 2017.
  5. State Policy Network, 25th SPN Annual Meeting: Thursday Breakfast Sessions, SPN website, Accessed August 5, 2017.
  6. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  7. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  8. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  9. Stephen Dinan, Koch network says no ties to new ACU chief, The Washington Times, June 23, 2014.
  10. Eli Clifton, Why CPAC Isn’t As Grassroots As You Think: The American Conservative Union’s annual conference takes big, big sums from the gun, oil, and cigarette industry, Slate Magazine, March 7, 2014.
  11. American Conservative Foundation, ACU ANNOUNCES TOP 10 CONSERVATIVES UNDER 40, ACU website, March 7, 2014.
  12. American Conservative Foundation, ACU EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DANIEL SCHNEIDER KICKS OFF CPAC 2014, ACU website, March 6, 2014.
  13. Charles Koch Institute, Finding Justice in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Charles Koch Industries website, June 10, 2016.
  14. Charles Koch Institute, Smart Reforms for Virginia’s Justice System, Charles Koch Industries website, February 9, 2016.
  15. Ken Cuccinelli, Pat Nolan, Grover Norquist, and Vikrant Reddy, Cuccinelli, Nolan, Norquist and Reddy: Smart reforms for Virginia's justice system, Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 2, 2016.
  16. Charles Koch Institute, Inviting Transparency in the Lone Star State, Charles Koch Industries website, April 13, 2016.
  17. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and American Conservative Union Foundation Unveil Report on Underlying Reasons for Rhode Island’s Rank (48th) on Family Prosperity Index, Bradley Foundation website, February 2017.
  18. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute to co-host forum on New Hampshire's heroin epidemic, Bradley Foundation website, September 2016.
  19. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, American Conservative Union Foundation and Wisconsin Family Council issue report on underlying reasons for state's rank of No. 18 on Family Prosperity Index, Bradley Foundation website, July 2016.
  20. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, American Conservative Union Foundation launches index to measure impact of economy on families -- and families on the economy -- on state-by-state basis, Bradley Foundation website, March 2016.
  21. Conservative Transparency, Total Value Of Contributions: American Conservative Union, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 22.7 Conservative Transparency, Top Supporters of American Conservative Union, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  23. 23.0 23.1 SourceWatch, Contributions of the Bradley Foundation, SourceWatch website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  24. SourceWatch, Koch Family Foundations, SourceWatch website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  25. Conservative Transparency, Total Value Of Contributions: American Conservative Union Foundation, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  26. 26.00 26.01 26.02 26.03 26.04 26.05 26.06 26.07 26.08 26.09 26.10 26.11 26.12 26.13 Conservative Transparency, Top Supporters of American Conservative Union Foundation, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 ProPublica, American Conservative Union, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 ProPublica, American Conservative Union Foundation, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  29. The American Conservative Union, Staff, ACU website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  30. The American Conservative Union, Board of Directors, ACU website, Accessed August 3, 2017.
  31. The American Conservative Union Foundation, Board of Directors, ACU website, Accessed August 3, 2017.

External articles