Americans for Job Security

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Americans for Job Security (AJS) is a registered trade group that describes itself as an "independent, bi-partisan, pro-business issue advocacy organization,"[1] but which appears to engage mainly in election-related activities.[2] AJS has been described by the Center for Responsive Politics as "pro-Republican", "pro-business", and "established to directly counter labor's influence".[3]

In 2012, AJS was involved in what the Center for Media and Democracy called a dark money shell game related to two California ballot initiatives; two other groups involved in the scheme were found to have engaged in campaign money laundering, paying $1 million in fines.[2]

According to many sources, AJS has long been involved in dark money political spending. "You could say Americans for Job Security has been keeping donors anonymous since before it was cool," Talking Points Memo's Eric Lach wrote in December 2012.[4]

In a 2007 FEC Complaint, Public Citizen wrote that AJS was a "sham front group that would be better called Corporations Influencing Elections ... masquerading as a non-profit to conceal its funders and the scope of its electioneering activities,"[5] The Federal Elections Commission found "reason to believe" that AJS had violated election law by not registering as a political committee -- which would have required more disclosure -- but the FEC's Republican commissioners blocked any action against the group.[6]

The Center for Responsive Politics also reported that, in 1998, AJS "pledged to raise and spend $100 million on issue ads over the next five years."[7]

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 Koch Brothers

While AJS has refused to disclose the sources of its funding, it received $4.8 million in 2010 from the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR, now known as American Encore), which has close ties to the Koch brothers and their political network.[8] (See #2012 Dark Money Shell Game to Influence Anti-Union Ballot Measure below for more.)

Tax-Exempt Status

AJS is officially registered as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit "trade association," meaning that the organization is designed to promote the “common business interests” of its members,[1] but it does not appear to advance the interests of any particular industry or trade. Additionally, "it is not prohibited from intervening in political campaigns so long as political campaign intervention is not its primary activity." The group claims that as a 501(c)(6) "trade association," it raises funds not through donations earmarked for political ads, but from voluntary "membership dues," which the group's leaders decide on their own how to disburse[9] -- allowing it to hide its donors by claiming none of the donations were made for the purpose of funding its election-related activities. However, the Washington Post reported in 2010 that AJS spends "the vast majority of its budget on television and radio ads before elections.[10]

According to Public Citizen, if the advertising constitutes campaign intervention (electioneering), the activity would be considered AJS's primary activity, resulting in loss of tax-exempt status and imposition of taxes under Section 527(f)."[11]

On April 11, 2007, Public Citizen wrote to the IRS and FEC, complaining that the group should lose its non-profit status, due to its "electioneering."[12] The Federal Elections Commission found "reason to believe" AJS had violated election law by not registering as a political committee -- which would have required more disclosure -- but the FEC's Republican commissioners blocked any action against the group.[6]

Election Activities

2014 Election Cycle

As of June 2014, AJS had not reported any independent expenditures for the 2014 election.[13]

2012 Dark Money Shell Game to Influence Anti-Union Ballot Measure

In 2012, AJS was involved in a campaign money laundering scheme that was investigated by the California Attorney General and California's Fair Political Practices Commission, resulting in record fines.

On November 5th, 2012, the day before the election, an enforcement action by California's elections board revealed that Americans for Job Security had provided $11 million to a California political committee that spent that same amount supporting California Proposition 32, a piece of anti-union legislation that sought to eliminate the deduction of dues from a worker's payroll, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.[14]

It was further made clear that AJS had initially received the $11 million it gave to the political committee from another dark money non-profit group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights -- a group affiliated with the Koch brothers -- implicating it as a part of a campaign money laundering shell game.[2]

In a settlement with California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and the Fair Political Practices Commission, the CPPR and ARL agreed to pay a $1 million fine, and AJS and SBAC were required to turn over the $15 million in contributions they had received, according to the New York Times.[15] According to the press release from the Fair Political Practices Commission, "Under California law, the failure to disclose this initially was campaign money laundering. At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history."[16]

In 2011, AJS launched a coordinated effort against "Big Labor" "Infesting the Workplace." AJS activities included placing a large inflatable rat outside of the National Labor Relations Board headquarters, and buying ads before, during, and after the October 11th Republican primary debate in New Hampshire.[17] The campaign also included a website, richietherat.com, but site activity stopped by the end of the year.

Other Activity in 2012 Election Cycle

In 2012, Americans for Job Security spent $15.8 million in "outside spending" towards conservative candidates backing a "pro-growth, pro-jobs" agenda in addition to $52,000 in direct contributions to candidates. The majority of these contributions went towards attacking Democrats.[18]

"Run"

The group's first buy in 2012 was an attack ad aimed at influencing the Wisconsin Senate Primary. On August 2, 2012, Americans for Job Security made a $462,000 dollar ad buy attacking Eric Hovde, a candidate opposing Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann.[19] The ad, entitled Hovde Stimulus, accused Hovde of supporting the 2009 financial stimulus and taking stimulus money through ePlus, one of the companies he invested in. Hovde claims that the ad was untrue, that his company never accepted stimulus money, and that AJS illegally coordinated with the Thompson campaign. Americans for Job Security once did work for Persuasion Partners, a PR firm that acted as a consultant for the Thompson campaign.[20]

On September 27, 2012, the coalition spent $8.1 million dollars attacking incumbent President Barack Obama with an ad buy targeting Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. The ad constituted the group's first spending in the 2012 presidential race and attacked Obama for slow job growth and failing to turn the economy around. The ad concluded that "the future is getting worse under Obama."[21]

History

In the late 1990s, AJS spun off "from a group called The Coalition: Americans Working for Real Change, a group that had been formed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to counteract the extensive soft money spending by the AFL-CIO starting in the 1996 elections," according to Public Citizen.[22]

It is alleged that AJS was founded by Marc F. Racicot from the American Insurance Association and the American Forest and Paper Association, each of whom gave a $1 million donation to the group.[4]. Racicot headed George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and is a former Republican National Committee chairman.[23] In June 2005, Racicot became the new head of the American Insurance Association, which "represents 435 major property and casualty insurance companies," according to the Washington Post.[24]

2010 Election Cycle

Zach Space

AJS launched a television ad criticizing Zack Space (D-OH) for "supporting Nancy Pelosi's liberal agenda." It accused the congressman of voting for higher energy taxes which would "kill Ohio jobs."[25] In response, Space denied that he is a clone of Speaker Pelosi, and has "the gravitas to stand up to his party leadership."[26]

Jane Norton

In the Republican primary race for Colorado Senate, AJS released an ad attacking Jane Norton, the former Colorado Lieutenant Governor. The ad argued that Norton supported "the largest tax hike in Colorado history" and oversaw "a state bureaucracy that grew by $43 million in just three years." Politifact.com checked the veracity of both these claims. It revealed that the tax hike referred to in the ad was not a tax increase, but a repeal of a rebate that was approved by the voters of Colorado in a referendum, which Norton also supported. Furthermore, the increase in state revenues it created was not the largest in Colorado history, but only one of the largest in recent history.[27] With regard to the growth of bureaucracy, AJS' ad left out the fact that the $43 million increase was due to an influx of federal funds. State tax revenues actually deceased during Norton's tenure as Lieutenant Governor.[28]

Bill Halter

AJS spent roughly $1.5 million to defeat Arkansas Senate candidate Bill Halter, according to the Washington Post.[29] One of their ads was subjected to complaints of racism. As described by the Washington Post, the ad features "residents of India speaking in heavy accents as they thank Halter for exporting jobs to their country." Halter's opponent, Senator Blanche Lincoln, decried the ads[29] But Lincoln's campaign distributed materials with a picture of the Taj Mahal and a charge that Halter supported outsourcing. Halter responded to the ads by calling it "petty politics" and filed a complaint against AJS with the Federal Elections Commission.[30] The Securities and Exchange Commission also stated that WebMethod's opening of a development center in India had no effect on job loss in the United States.[1]

Election Cycle 2006

The Campaign Finance Institute included the following AJS activities in its report on "soft money" in the 2006 elections[31]

  1. "Ran an estimated $1.5 million in ads on behalf of Republican Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania Senate race, praising his past votes for anti-tax stance and Social Security initiative."
  2. "Sponsored prerecorded phone calls in an Oklahoma House Republican primary that criticized two of the six candidates."[32]
  3. "Ran ads in two House races in Indiana and Minnesota supportive of Republican candidates."

Santorum and ASJ used same ad footage

In December 2005, Sen. Rick Santorum ran an internet ad that used the same footage as that in an ad "placed on TV stations" by Americans for Job Security, according to an article by the Associated Press. The report noted that "Michael Dubke, president of the Republican-leaning third-party group, and John Brabender, Santorum's media consultant, each denied that the two sides had collaborated in any way."[33]

Supporting Santorum

By the end of August 2006, "Americans for Job Security and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce [had] spent close to $1.3 million on television ads combined supporting Santorum’s record on taxes, Social Security, and Medicare".[34]

On December 1, 2005, the Philadelphia Daily News asked "Who owns you, Senator?", commenting,

"Santorum doesn't seem too concerned about who is behind Americans for Job Security, a Virginia-based anti-tax group that refuses to identify contributors. He declined to tell one of our reporters whether his financial backers should step out of the shadows. How discreet.
"If supporters of Americans for Job Security want to step into our state and influence our elections - fine. Just have the guts to tell Pennsylvania voters your name as you send your checks.
"As for Sen. Santorum, he should remember he owes the voters of this state a lot more than he owes some slippery little front group."[35]

A Stronger America - Minnesota

In November 2006, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party gubernatorial nominee Mike Hatch[36] sent an email to supporters which read:

A Stronger America-Minnesota purposefully structured itself to conceal its identity and its donors. It registered with the Campaign Finance Board on October 2, [2006] listing its address as a dropbox in Alexandria, Virginia. Its contributions were timed to avoid disclosure of its donors until after the November 7 election.
A reverse directory search of 'A Stronger America's' phone number listed on its registration statement, however, shows that it and its ad agency share an office address with another PAC called 'Americans for Job Security.' The executive director of Americans for Job Security is the former political director of the Bush White House. ...
This is not the first time we have seen this unseemly activity in Minnesota. In 2002, Americans for Job Security tried to buy the U.S. Senate race by purchasing $1 million in negative attack ads against Paul Wellstone.[37]

According to ASA-MN's October 27, 2006, filing with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (MCFPDB), Joseph Deoudes was listed as treasurer, with the organization's address given as 107 South West Street, PMB499, Alexandria, Virginia.[38] ASA-MN's registration form shows Sean Henry as ASA-MN chair.[39]

In its initial filing, ASA-MN reported receipts of $40,300 from only four Minnesota contributors: Stanley S. Hubbard, CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting ($10,000); CAR of St. Paul ($20,000); Robert J. Ulrich, CEO Target ($10,000); and the "business lobbying firm"[40] Lindquist & Vennum PLLP ($300).[38]

On November 2, 2006, Robin Marty reported in the Minnesota Monitor[41]

"A few days and $450,000 worth of donations later, they may be a force that could sway the election. ... It will be unclear where the last minute surge of donations came from due to the fact that they arrived after the final reporting deadline. However, the early reports feature the $20,000 donation from CAR, a group of car dealerships that Gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch believes could have reason to prefer incumbent Tim Pawlenty in this race. According to the Star Tribune Hatch states 'I've sued a lot of car dealers.'"

The following day, on November 3, 2006, ASA-MN contributor and spokesman Joe Weber told the Associated Press that "the group has now raised close to $700,000." The group was not required to report its "fundraising and spending again until January [2007]."[42]

Attack Ads Linked to Swift Boat Lawyer and Funder

On November 3, 2006, the Associated Press reported that ASA-MN's Hatch attack ads were connected to Benjamin Ginsberg, the Washington lawyer "who represented the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in the 2004 presidential campaign."[42]

Ginsberg, who resigned in 2004 as a lawyer for President George W. Bush's "campaign after acknowledging he was providing legal advice to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which made unsubstantiated allegations about Democratic candidate John Kerry's Vietnam War record," was also confirmed as being the lawyer for ASA-MN.[42]

In a December 19, 2006, follow-up, the Associated Press reported the same wealthy Houston, Texas, businessman, Bob Perry, who had helped finance the Swift Boat ads against Kerry, was the "main funder" behind ASA-MN. A "recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service" showed that Perry had contributed $500,000 to A Stronger America, whose Minnesota chapter had spent about $750,000 in its anti-Hatch campaign.[43]

ASA-MN spokesman Joe Weber said the "infusion of Texas cash" was wired into ASA's bank account "about three weeks before the Nov. 7 election. That timing allowed the group to avoid reporting the contributions before the election.

"It also allowed the group to mount an extensive television campaign that it otherwise might not have been able to muster."[44]

Minnesota Complaint

In a February 7, 2007, complaint filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board by the Minnesota DFL Party[45] "points out that two organizations exist with similar names: A Stronger America, an organization established under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code ('the National Organization'), and A Stronger America – Minnesota ('ASA-MN' or 'the Committee'), the political committee registered with the Board. According to documents filed with the complaint, the two entities use the same mailing address, which is a private mailbox."

The Minnesota DFL pointed out that both organizations reported "some of the same contributions and expenditures on their reports even though" only ASA-MN was registered with the Board, particularly "a number of contributions received from corporations which are not disclosed on the ASA-MN report." The only reports considered were "year-end reports obtained by the Board for both entities."[45]

The Minnesota DFL's position was that the two organizations "may be a single entity, selectively reporting contributions and expenditures on each report, or that the donations are received by the National Organization and are then used by, transferred to, or merely reported by ASA-MN." Additionally, there were no reports of separate "expenditures for overhead or support such as telephone, private mailbox rent, office space, or similar items," indicating that there was no separate operation.[45]

The Board's findings favored ASA-MN, only requiring the organization to amend its 2006 report to more accurately reflect some minor financial transactions.

Election Cycle 2004

Texas District 1

According to The Austin Chronicle, the special January 2004 Texas District 1 race "pitted former state Rep. Sadler of Henderson against a brace of Republicans, including former Tyler Mayor Eltife and [then] state Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview," to replace Sen. Bill Ratliff, who retired early. "Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst personally endorsed Eltife -- not surprising against a Democrat, but also a direct snub of House District 7 incumbent Merritt, who angered fellow Republicans by opposing congressional redistricting and voting against the final map. Merritt ran a distant third, and said he would turn his attention to the March primaries and his House re-election campaign."[46]

The Chronicle added that

"The race is hot with state partisan interest, and a D.C.-based but Austin-wired trade association with insurance industry ties calling itself Americans for Job Security ran 'issue ads' denouncing Merritt -- provoking a campaign finance law complaint from Austin-based Campaigns for People, charging illegal use of corporate funds for electioneering. The daisy chain continues -- Americans for Job Security is run by Rick Perry consultant Dave Carney, a prominent 'tort reform' player also hooked up with capital GOP operatives Ray Sullivan and Reggie Bashur." [...]
"Campaigns for People President Fred Lewis told The Longview News-Journal that the ad campaign 'looks like electioneering, it smells like electioneering, it might be electioneering. We have a corporate prohibition, and the reason is so large corporations don't so overwhelm our elections that the rights of the average people are unimportant. ... If it isn't nipped in the bud, it's going to be out of control'."[46]

Complaint

As reported by the non-profit Public Citizen, in January 2004 the Texas watchdog group Campaigns for People (CFP) filed a complaint alleging that AJS funneled corporate money "to pay for attack ads against a state representative just days before a six-way special election." CFP alleged that Republican Rep. Tommy Merritt, the target of the ads, was attacked because he "opposed his own party’s redistricting plan that was being pushed through the legislature at the behest of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas)." AJS countered that the ads "weren’t intended to influence the election but rather to further AJS’s promotion of 'pro-paycheck issues'," even though, as CFP pointed out, "AJS did not air its ads during the legislative session, when the bills were being debated, but rather in the closing days of an election campaign."[47]

Supporting N.C.'s Richard Burr

The Independent Weekly (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina) wrote in July 2004 that Americans for Job Security had "launched a $600,000 ad campaign on Triangle and Charlotte television stations, praising the Republican's commitment to his constituents while flashing feel-good video of the casually dressed congressman shaking a lot of hands,"[48] adding,

"AJS has been active in federal races since 1998, spending nearly $12 million in select races during the last presidential cycle in 2000. With close ties to the current president and his father, as well as other key GOP leaders, the group has earned a reputation for anti-Democrat attack ads, including slamming Sen. John Edwards in billboard and newspaper ads during his presidential run. Because it is a so-called 'issue group' rather than a political action committee, AJS is not required under campaign finance laws to disclose its donors or its expenses, though various media have reported it was initially seeded with $1 million from the insurance association, took in another $2 million from that group and the American Forest and Paper Association in 2000, and has received financial support from pharmaceutical companies--all corporate interests that have contributed to Burr and received his support in Congress."

Targeting John Edwards

According to USA Today, on June 2003, AJS targeted North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, "a former trial lawyer who [had] received many campaign contributions from fellow attorneys ... [P]assengers arriving at the Manchester, N.H., airport, the jumping off point for reporters covering the nation's opening-gun primary, [were to] see billboards with legends like this: 'Next time you see him, tell John Edwards it's time for lawsuit reform.'"[49]

AJS, "which advertised heavily in the 1992 congressional campaigns in support of free-market economic nostrums, [only spent] about $10,000 on these airport ads in Manchester and, eventually, Des Moines," USA Today wrote.[49]

Paul Wellstone

In October 2002, The Nation reported that AJS "made a record-breaking $1 million purchase of television and radio advertising time to attack [Sen. Paul] Wellstone."[50] According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jeff Blodgett, campaign manager for Wellstone, "said the buy is so large that it may equal what Wellstone and Republican rival Norm Coleman and the two state parties each are expected to spend on media in the closing weeks."[51]

Describing AJS's campaign ads, the Star Tribune also wrote that

"Americans for Job Security has been a player in the race since June, when it began a round of radio ads that labeled Wellstone a "money-grubber" for his opposition to a permanent repeal of the estate tax, which it calls the "death tax."
"A new TV ad criticizes Wellstone for taking special-interest money and for breaking a promise not to run for a third term."[51]

Election Cycle 2000

Microsoft

"[I]n 2000, Microsoft allegedly used Americans for Job Security (AJS) as a conduit for political money. AJS is a trade association that represents no industry or group of companies and doesnot disclose its membership. According to the Campaign Finance Institute, in 2000 Microsoft gave an undisclosed amount to AJS, which claimed to have spent between $10 and $12 million on political ads that year. The group’s political activity included spending around $700,000 on ads praising [Spencer] Abraham and attacking [Debbie] Stabenow, and spending upwards of $500,000 on ads attacking Washington Democratic nominee Maria Cantwell. The Campaign Finance Institute reports that Cantwell is an executive at a firm that competes with Microsoft."[52]

Other Issues

Member of Anti-Estate Tax Coalition (2002-2005)

"In the months prior to the 2002 election, pro-repeal organizations ran estate tax issue ads in South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota, lowa, and Arkansas. In Missouri, the United Seniors Association and Americans for Job Security (phony grassroots organizations fronting for corporate interests) targeted former Senator Jean Carnahan's position on the estate tax. In Minnesota, Americans for Job Security ran full-page newspaper ads attacking the late Senator Paul Wellstone for voting against full repeal, and flew a banner at the Minnesota state fair: 'Wellstone Quit Taxing the Dead!'."[53]

In summer 2005, AJS, "which devotes nearly all of its spending on advertising, concentrates nearly entirely on messages that aim to influence elections as opposed to influencing the outcomes of discrete public policy issues", departed "from that practice" and "targeted" four senators "with issue-related advertisements that supported a repeal of the estate tax. They were former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn), and Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.)."[54]

Against the Employee Free Choice Act (2008)

In the weeks following the 2008 election Americans for Job Security has "a new ad out for their opposition to Card Check, and they have bought air time for it on almost all of the television networks."[55]

CBS refused to air the ad, which was featured here. In a statement Stephen DeMaura said, "Americans for Job Security attempted to advertise on the CBS Network but our advertisement titled 'Secret' was denied. It is one part of a serious and ongoing public policy debate on the Employee Free Choice Act. According to our media buyers, CBS officials cited the appearance of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom the advertisement shows in visual form only, as one of the primary reasons for the denial of the advertisement. One CBS representative felt that viewers would be 'confused' by its contents within their program. The advertisement was approved by other broadcast networks."

The advertisement and its placement on Fox News Sunday drew additional criticism as the message of the ad was parodied by host Chris Wallace just before the commercial break.[56]

Against the Pebble Mine in Alaska (2008)

In 2008, Americans for Job Security took a strong and active stance against the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska, which may threaten the commercial and sport fishing industry of the area. The active opposition of the organization created controversy as it coincided with Ballot Measure 4, which would have stopped the effort. The Anchorage Daily News reported that AJS was the major source of funding for the campaign against Pebble Mine, but that its treasurer claimed not to know who was funding AJS.[57] A separate account of the effort by the Anchorage Daily News wrote, "Americans for Job Security -- a secretive, Republican-oriented group in Virginia that doesn't identify its members -- contributed nearly $3 million to back Measure 4," and that they "also funded "issue" ads in the form of mailers and radio spots. The cost of those ads was not disclosed."[58]

AJS' push for Pebble Mine came under scrutiny after the upswell in ad dollars spent in Alaska and prompted the Alaska Public Offices Commission to fine the group $20,000 and issue a report stating, "Americans for Job Security has no purpose other than to cover various money trails all over the country."[6]

The Pebble Mine would be the largest open pit mine in the world and has been actively supported by international mining companies who donated more than $8 million to Ballot Measure 4. [2] Many argued it was weird that AJS would oppose the project but Stephen DeMaura group President said in a Daily News Miner story “We believe the Pebble Mine is bad for the commercial fishing industry in Alaska,” DeMaura said. “We’re going to continue to engage in that discussion for as long as it takes.” [3]

"Stealth PAC"

In the July/August Election Update, the National Committee for an Effective Congress reported:[59]

"One challenge Representative Stabenow faces is competing with Abraham’s massive war chest. While Stabenow has raised roughly $2 million, Senator Abraham has over $5 million. Attack ads aired by the Federation for American Immigration Reform may have forced Abraham to devote resources to a response, but Stabenow has faced similar problems. One group, Americans for Job Security, has already spent nearly $450,000 on negative advertisements. The massive financial advantage may be counteracted by The Washington Post's discovery of the unscrupulous tactics used by Abraham’s campaign to raise the money. Senator Abraham staffers, with help from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, have extorted money from high-tech industries by linking their contributions to important legislation. Much of the funding has been directed to a 'stealth PAC', Americans for Job Security, used to attack Representative Stabenow. At a time when Americans are more concerned than ever before with campaign finance reform, this scandal does not bode well for the Abraham campaign."

Funding

AJS has "steadfastly refused to disclose its contributors. The group’s explanation underlines why disclosure of funding sources of grassroots lobbying campaigns is needed: AJS President Mike Dubke has said that such disclosure would distract from the group’s message," Public Citizen wrote in a January 2007 report on astroturf groups.[54]

In its 2010 tax filings, AJS described the source of its revenue as follows:

"The organization has over 100 members which pay membership fees that are deposited into the general fund and will support the broad mission and efforts of the organization."[9]

AJS "has a history of injecting itself into Congressional campaigns," Carl Hulse wrote July 14, 2002, in the New York Times,[60] and "was apparently used solely as a conduit to hide corporate political spending and insulate companies from accountability," a May 2006 report by the Center for Political Accountability stated.[61]

In the wake of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the FEC issued advisory opinions which stated that any group making an "independent expenditure" intended to influence a political race, either for or against a candidate but independent from any candidate's campaign, should register with the FEC as a political action committee and disclose their finances. AJS declined to do so, interpreting FEC rules to mandate disclosure only when a donor mandates that their money be used in a specific time, place and manner; a situation that almost never occurs.[62]

Core Financials

2012[63]
For the period November 1, 2011-October 31, 2012

  • Total Revenue: $51,030,033
  • Total Expenses: $48,420,068
    • Major Expenses: $26,335,750 (grant funding); $18,160,668 (media services/placement)
  • Net Assets: $3,336,538

2011[64]
For the period November 1, 2010-October 31, 2011

  • Total Revenue: $2,508,025
  • Total Expenses: $2,481,855
    • Major expense: $1,895,206 (media services/placement)
  • Net Assets: $726,573

2010[9] For the period November 1, 2009-October 31, 2010.

  • Total Revenue: $12, 411,684
  • Total Expenses: $12,417,809
    • Major expense: $10,374, 852 (media services/placement)
  • Net Assets: $700,403

2009[9] For the period November 1, 2008-October 31, 2009.

  • Total Revenue: $3,625,918
  • Total Expenses: $3,490,547
  • Net Assets: $706,529

Grants Issued

2012[63]

AJS reported no grants given in 2010 or 2011.

Known Funders

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, some 2012 donors to AJS could be identified from documents released after a California grand jury investigation into a dark money campaign finance scheme.[65] These donors included:

One additional known funder of AJS is the Center to Protect Patients' Rights (CPPR), which gave AJS $4.8 million in 2010 as part of a $55 million dollar block of donations to conservative groups that spent millions in the 2010 elections including the American Future Fund, the 60 Plus Association and Americans for Tax Reform. [8] AJS in turn gave $24.5 million to CPPR in 2012, the year both groups were involved in the California dark money scheme.

Another known funder is the Wellspring Foundation, which gave AJS $346,098 in 2010; the foundation also gave to political groups like the American Action Network, American Majority, and the Franklin Center. [67]

Republican Affiliations

  • Political Solutions[68], "founded to help ensure Republican candidates, free enterprise PACs and conservative causes achieve success."[69]
  • Public Opinion Strategies, a self-described "Republican polling firm", which "used mall intercept testing" in "issue campaign experience on behalf of" AJS "and others".[70]

Crossroads Media, Black Rock Group & TargetPoint Consulting

AJS lists its address at a drop box at a UPS store in Alexandria, Virginia, but the New York Times discovered in 2010 that the group's acting president DeMaura works in an office space shared with Crossroads Media and the Black Rock Group, which were founded by AJS co-founder Dubke.[73][74] AJS made almost all of its 2012 media buys through Crossroads Media, as did American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS- which are led by Carl Forti, who along with Dubke leads the Black Rock Group.[75]. "Dubke, over the last five years operating as an advertising agency, has placed attack radio and television commercials in races all over the country. He has been investigated, threatened and described as a 'political jackal' because he represents groups that don't disclose the sources of their money. He says that is deliberate, because keeping the sources secret means the debate is on his targets rather than his donors."[23][76]

In addition AJS shares an office with TargetPoint Consulting who are described "As the exclusive supplier of MicroTargeting research and data to the Republican National Committee, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign and several Fortune 500 companies, TargetPoint Consulting offers the gold standard in voter-relationship management," its website states. [[4]]

The partners of TargetPoint are Alex Gage, Michael Meyers who were chief strategists for the Presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and the third partner is Brent Seaborn who held the same position for the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani. [5]

Ad Coordination

Some of AJS' ad buys appear to be coordinated with Karl Rove's Crossroads groups. For example, AJS made an $8 million buy in late September 2012 urging disaffected Obama supporters not to vote for him again, a message whose timing and tone was in sync with ads run during the same period by American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies- and all three groups used Crossroads Media as their media buyer.[77]

In Pennsylvania, AJS spent $1.2 million on ads in Philadelphia at the same time American Crossroads spent the same amount on ads across the rest of the state.[78]

The ties don't end there: For an unknown reason, AJS has disbursed nearly $1 million directly to Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategices.[79]

Personnel

According to Public Citizen, the following are principals and consultants affiliated with AJS, post past and present.[81]

Former Principals

Consultants

Affiliated Consultants or Vendors

Contact Information

107 South West Street, PMB 551
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-535-3110
[84]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources

External articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Americans for Job Security, About, organizational website. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brendan Fischer, "California Elections Board Peels Back Layer of Dark Money Onion, Finds More Onion", "PR Watch", November 6, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Center for Responsive Politics, Americans for Job Security, 2004 Election Cycle, Open Secrets.org, accessed October 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Eric Lach, The Dark Money Forerunner of Secret California Millions, Talking Points Memo, December 3, 2012.
  5. Public Citizen, Evidentiary File for Americans for Job Security Electioneering, complaint to Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, April 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mike McIntire, "Hidden Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Political Dollars Flow", New York Times, September 23, 2010.
  7. Center for Responsive Politics, Issue Ads: Loophole of the 2000s?, OpenSecrets.org, archived by the WayBack Machine March 16, 2006.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Viveca Novak, Center for Responsive Politics, Mystery Health Care Group Funneled Millions to Conservative Nonprofits, OpenSecrets.org, May 18th, 2012, accessed August 10th, 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Americans for Job Security, 2010 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed June 23, 2014.
  10. T. W. Farnam, "Ruling sets up IRS as overseer of groups' gifts to campaigns," Washington Post, August 22, 2012, accessed June 23, 2014.
  11. Jack Siegel, New Fundraising Opportunity for Charities: Turn Your Opponents in to the IRS and Collect the Bounty, Charity Governance Consulting LLC (Blog), April 12, 2007.
  12. Public Citizen, "Stop AFC: Non-Profit Front Group Violates Tax Status, Electioneering Laws," organizational press release and complaint against AJS, April 11, 2007.
  13. Center for Responsive Politics, Americans for Job Security, election cycle 2014 summary, accessed June 23, 2014.
  14. Marissa Lagos, The Source of $11 Million Contribution Revealed, San Francisco Chronicle, November 5, 2012.
  15. Nicholas Confessore, "Group Linked to Kochs Admits to Campaign Finance Violations," New York Times, October 24, 2013.
  16. California Fair Political Practices Commission, "Americans for Responsible Leadership Admits Campaign Money Laundering, Discloses $11 Million Donor," state governmental commission website, accessed April 29, 2014.
  17. Alex Burns, Americans for Job Security to Slam "Greedy Union Bosses" in Debate , Politico, October 11, 2011, accessed August 6th, 2012.
  18. Center for Responsive Politics, Americans for Job Security, OpenSecrets.org online political influence database, accessed 2013.
  19. Kevin Brennan, Americans for Job Security hits Hovde in Wisconsin, National Journal, August 2nd, 2012, accessed August 6th, 2012.
  20. Patrick Marley, Hovde Threatens Lawsuit over Ad accusing him of taking stimulus money, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 3, 2012, accessed August 6th, 2012.
  21. Alexander Burns, Americans For Prosperity Joins 2012 Presidential Air War, Politico, September 26th, 2012.
  22. Public Citizen, Americans for Job Security, organization profile. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Controversial Americans For Job Security President Placed 'She' Anti-Holland Commercials; Document Shows He's Advertising Agency 'Partner', The McCarville Report Online, October 8, 2006.
  24. Al Kamen, "Premium Pay," Washington Post, June 12, 2005.
  25. Americans for Job Security, ABC 6, date unknown, archived by the WayBack Machine October 26, 2010.
  26. Sabrina Eaton, Pro-business group to run television ad opposing Rep. Zack Space, Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 8, 2010.
  27. Politifact, "Jane Norton supported Referendum C -- so did the voters" July 9, 2010. Accessed June 30, 2014.
  28. Politifact, "Jane Norton's Public Health and Environment Department had some funding increase, some funding decrease," July 9, 2010. Accessed June 30, 2014.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Greg Sargent, "Shadowy outside group spending $1.5 million to influence Arkansas Dem primary," Washington Post, May 6, 2010. Accessed June 30, 2014.
  30. Sam Stein, "Group Sends Racially-Tinged Mailer Targeting Bill Halter In Arkansas Senate Race," Huffington Post, May 13, 2010. Accessed June 30, 2014.
  31. "Soft Money in the 2006 Election and the Outlook for 2008: The Changing Nonprofits Landscape. Table 3: 501(c) Organizations Attempting to Influence 2006 Congressional Elections. Based on Reported IRS or FEC-defined Campaign Activities (Non-Comprehensive Listing), Campaign Finance Institute, 2006. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  32. Marie Price, "Campaign hijinks," The Journal Record (Oklahoma City, Okla.), July 31, 2006. Archived on Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 1, 2014.
  33. Associated Press, "Third-party political organization, Santorum using same footage in ads," Observer-Reporter (Washington, PA), December 3, 2005. Accessed via Google News, July 1, 2014.
  34. "2006 Candidate Ad Spending up 150 Percent From Last Mid-terms; Spending Could Surpass Record 2004 Levels. Battle for House and Senate Majority Fueling Record Ad Spending," tns media intelligence, August 22, 2006. Archived by Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 1, 2014.
  35. "Who Owns You, Senator? So Who's giving Sen. Rick Santorum close to a $1 million to help in his re-election campaign?" BobCasey.com, December 1, 2005. Archived by Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 1, 2014.
  36. Mike Hatch, Wikipedia.
  37. Michael B. Brodkorb, "Statement from MN GOP on Mike Hatch," MinnesotaDemocratsExposed.com, November 3, 2006. Archived on Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 1, 2014.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Report of Receipts and Expenditures for A Stronger America-Minnesota filed October 27, 2006, with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  39. "Political Committees and Political Funds Registration Information: A Stronger America-Minnesota, Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
  40. Tom Scheck, "Suddenly, campaign pits Hatch vs. Hubbard,", Minnesota Public Radio, November 3, 2006.
  41. Robin Marty, " Minnesota Monitor, November 2, 2006.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 "Anti-Hatch Ads Linked To Ex-Swift Boat Lawyer," Associated Press (CBS4 WCCO.com), November 3, 2006. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  43. "Swift Boat Financier Paid For Anti-Hatch Ads," Associated Press (CBS4 WCCO.com), December 19, 2006. Archived by Internet Wayback Machine, accessed July 1, 2014.
  44. Pat Doyle, " Swift Boat contributor funded ads against Hatch," Star-Tribune.com (Minn.), December 20, 2006. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 Findings and Order in the matter of the Complaint of the Minnesota DFL Party regarding A Stronger America - Minnesota. Summary of the Complaint and Responses, Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, May 7, 2007. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Michael King, "It's Sadler and Eltife, Seliger and Edwards," The Austin Chronicle, January 23, 2004. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  47. Public Citizen, "Americans for Job Security," StealthPacs.org, October 5, 2004. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  48. Jennifer Strom, "The companies he keeps. Richard Burr is Congress’ No. 1 recipient of money from Big Tobacco—and a host of other special interests. So, who does he really represent?" Independent Weekly (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.), July 7, 2004.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Walter Shapiro, "White House money machine may spawn gremlins," USA TODAY, June 19, 2003. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  50. John Nichols, "Money Flows Into Anti-Wellstone Campaign," The Nation, October 23, 2002. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  51. 51.0 51.1 Patricia Lopez, "Mysterious Group Spends $1 Million on Anti-Wellstone Campaign," Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 23, 2002. Archived by Commondreams.org. Accessed July 1, 2014.
  52. "Political Transparency and Accountability Profile (2006): Microsoft," PoliticalAccountability.net.
  53. Rosie Hunter and Chuck Collins, "'Death Tax' Deception. Who's behind the movement to repeal the nation's only tax on inherited wealth?" Dollars and Sense Magazine (ThirdWorldTraveler), January/February 2003.
  54. 54.0 54.1 "Organizing Astroturf: Evidence Shows Bogus Grassroots Groups Hijack the Political Debate; Need for Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure Requirements Public Citizen/CleaUpWashington.org, January 2007.
  55. Ed Morrissey, Video: The Card Check ad CBS doesn’t want you to see, Hot Air, November 21, 2008.
  56. Wallace Repeats Americans for Job Security Talking Points, Fox News via YouTube user heathr456, November 23, 2008.
  57. Andrew Halcro, "Ballot Measure 4 is premature strike at Pebble Mine," Anchorage Daily News, August 24, 2008. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  58. Elizabeth Bluemink, "Measure 4 failing by large margin," Anchorage Daily News, August 27, 2008. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  59. Election Update, National Committee for an Effective Congress, July/August 2000.
  60. Carl Hulse, "Ads Push Estate Tax As Issue in Campaigns," New York Times, July 14, 2002. Accessed July 2, 2014.
  61. "CPA report calls trade associations 'Swiss bank accounts of American politics,' hiding and spending corporate political funds and heightening risks for shareholders," Center for Political Accountability, May 15, 2006.
  62. Jesse Zwick, "Americans For Job Security Rebuffs Disclosure Requirements," The Washington Independent, September 22, 2010. Accessed July 2, 2014.
  63. 63.0 63.1 63.2 63.3 63.4 Americans for Job Security, 2012 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed June 23, 2014.
  64. Americans for Job Security, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed June 23, 2014.
  65. 65.0 65.1 Viveca Novak, "California Investigation Reveals Some Donors in Dark Money Scheme," Center for Responsive Politics, October 24, 2013. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 Anthony York, "List unmasks secret donors to California initiative campaigns," LA Times, October 24, 2013. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  67. Wellspring Foundation, Wellspring Foundation Form 990, accessed via Guidestar.org Jan 3, 2013.
  68. "Eileen Watt: Political Solutions hired for Council race," Progress Pittsburgh, February 18, 2005.
  69. About, PolSol.com.
  70. Research: Methodology: Mall Intercepts, Public Opinion Strategies, accessed October 19, 2007.
  71. Clients, Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potholm, accessed October 19, 2007.
  72. "Convicted phone-jammer helping host GOP candidate workshop," Associated Press (Boston Globe), May 29, 2006.
  73. "66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 555", The New York Times, February 25, 2012.
  74. Mike McIntire and Michael Luo,"Fine Line Between 'Super PACs' and Campaigns",The New York Times, February 25, 2012.
  75. "Black Rock Group Bios" Black Rock Group, Accessed: January 14, 2012
  76. Ray for Congress, FEC ID#C00366906, FEC Disclosure. Michael D. Dubke is listed as "Crossroads Media/partner".
  77. Julie Bykowicz, "Business Group Runs-Literally-$8 Million in Ads", Bloomberg, September 28, 2012.
  78. "Political ads gear up for final push of campaign", Star-Telegram, Accessed January 14, 2012.
  79. "Disbursements Made or Obligations- Committee: Americans for Job Security", Federal Election Commission, Accessed January 14, 2012.
  80. Kathy Sullivan, "Sununu Front Group Attacks Shaheen in New Hampshire," Huffington Post, July 1, 2008. Accessed June 23, 2014.
  81. Consultants: Americans for Job Security, StealthPacs.org.
  82. Agent: Michael Dubke, StealthPacs.org.
  83. Media Transparency Heather R. Higgins Person Profile, accessed October 20, 2011
  84. Americans for Job Security, Contact Us, organizational website, accessed June 23, 2014.