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American Future Fund

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American Future Fund is a 501(c)(4) Koch-tied nonprofit entity largely dedicated to running television and web ads that promote conservative causes and influence elections. Like many (c)(4) groups, the Fund has been very secretive about who controls or manages it. AFF was founded in 2008 by Nick Ryan, who worked as an advisor to right-wing former Senator Rick Santorum in the 2012 presidential campaign. He founded the pro-Santorum Super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund. AFF records indicate that they were incorporated by Alex N. Vogel and his wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, who together run the consulting agency Holtzman Vogel. The first president of the group, Nicole Schlinger, was the former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party.[1] According to NPR, a large number of AFF's leadership were members of Mitt Romney's 2008 failed campaign for president.[2]

The American Future Fund received $1.1 million from the Koch-tied Center to Protect Patient Rights in 2011 after getting $1.3 million in 2009 and $11.7 million in 2010.[3]

Jill Vogel, one of the Co-founders of the American Future Fund
Alex Vogel, one of the Co-founders of the American Future Fund
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.

Fake Internet Ads in Wisconsin 2014 Elections Targeting College Students

In the last weekend of the 2014 race for governor in Wisconsin, American Future Fund launched a social media campaign with Internet ads in Wisconsin that purport to support Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Burke, but the phony ads are bankrolled by Republican supporters and are designed to draw college students away from Mary Burke the Democratic candidate for governor. The ads which can be found at "Support Robert Burke and Get Blazed" are targeted at supporters of the legalization of marijuana. Robert Burke, the libertarian candidate, promptly distanced himself from the ads and put out a statement, "The purpose of the ad is to draw young liberal voters from Mary Burke to vote for Robert Burke. While I endorse the full legalization of Cannabis I do not endorse in any way the message of this ad," which can be found on his official Facebook site.

Recipient of Koch Donor Network Funding in 2012 Election

The Koch network was one of the biggest political operations in 2012 and worked largely outside the campaign finance system, raising at least $407 million. Source: Robert Maguire with the Center for Responsive Politics.

From CMD's PRwatch publication: "In January, the Washington Post and Center for Responsive Politics followed the $400 million money trail flowing from two Koch-connected funding vehicles, the 501(c)(6) Freedom Partners and 501(c)(4) Center to Protect Patient Rights (now called "American Encore"), to other politically active nonprofits, like David Koch's Americans for Prosperity and the American Future Fund. Many of the recipients of that funding spent money influencing elections, only a fraction of which was reported to the Federal Elections Commission. Read more at PRwatch.

The Washington Post did a detailed expose on the $400 million Koch network. One of the entities funded by the network was the American Futures Fund described as: "a Des Moines-based nonprofit that poured more than $25 million into ads against Obama and congressional Democrats in 2012." See Washington Post article here.

FEC Complaint by Citizen Watchdog Groups

Public Citizen, Protect Our Elections and the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of Sourcewatch, filed an federal elections complaint against AFF in 2010 which can be found [here http://www.citizen.org/documents/fec_final_complaint_americanfuturefund101510.pdf]. The complaint states: "Based on published reports, complainants have reason to believe that American Future Fund has violated the law by raising and spending significant amounts of money to influence the 2010 congressional elections without (1) registering as a political committee, as required by 2 U.S.C. § 433, (2) filing financial disclosure reports required by 2 U.S.C. § 434, and (3) complying with the political committee organizational requirements of 2 U.S.C. § 432.1."

From History Commons: "Three citizen watchdog and pro-campaign finance groups, the Center for Media and Democracy, Protect Our Elections, and Public Citizen, allege that the tax-exempt nonprofit group American Future Fund (AFF) is violating tax law by operating primarily as a political advocacy group. AFF was founded and is operated by Nick Ryan, a former campaign advisor for former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former Representative Jim Nussle (R-IA), and the head of a political consulting firm, the Concordia Group. Ryan also founded a pro-Santorum “super PAC” called the Red, White and Blue Fund. State Senator Sandra Greiner (R-IA) and prominent Iowa Republican Allison Dorr Kleis serve as the organization’s directors." http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=american_future_fund_1

Influencing the 2012 Election

AFF's outside expenditures in the 2012 election totaled more than $25 million, with more than $11 million going to support Republican Mitt Romney in his presidential bid, or to defeat Democratic Incumbent President Barack Obama.[4] In addition, the American Future Fund also ran ads targeting Democrats in close U.S. Senate and House Races. The sections below detail Patriot Majority's involvement in races in the 2012 election, along with examples of ads they have aired against candidates in those races. At the end of each section, a short summary lists every major ad buy the group made in that particular race.


Influencing the 2012 Presidential Election

"Fed Up"

AFF was very active in the early part of the 2012 election cycle, stating that "Conservative and free market principles will be under direct attack in America".[5] On January 23rd, they ran "The Real State of the Union", an attack ad that aired just before Barack Obama's actual state of the union address.[6]. The ad attack Obama for failing to cut the deficit and increase the supply of renewable energy, despite the fact that both were largely the fault of republicans in congress. A second ad, which aired in February, attacked Obama, claiming that "His White House is Full of Wall Street Bankers."[7] Several news sources including Factcheck.org have pointed out that the ad greatly exaggerates the number and imporance of Wall street bankers in the Obama White House.[8] Later in the campaign, AFF began airing ads in support of Mitt Romney and his nominee for Vice President, congressman Paul Ryan.

Influencing Arizona House Races

"Changed"

During the 2012 election cycle, the American Future Fund spent almost $1.4 million influencing U.S. House races in Arizona's 1st and 9th Congressional Districts. In the 1st district, they spent $1 million supporting Republican hopeful Jonathan Paton, or attacking his rival, Democrat Ann Kirtpatrick, in the 9th district, they spent $300,000 attacking Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.[36] 1st Congressional District

9th Congressional District

Influencing California House Races

"Changed"

the American Future Fund invested at least $500,000 in a single attack ad against Democrat Julia Brownley, who was running for congress in California's 26th District. Their ad attacked Brownley for voting her staff pay raises instead of cutting spending. [41]

Influencing the Nevada Senate Race

"Battle Born"

After the presidential race, American Future Fund's largest single investment in 2012 concerned the Nevada Senate Race between Republican Dean Heller and Democratic Incumbent Shelly Berkley. The American Future Fund spent $1.3 million in the Arizona senate race.

Influencing the North Dakota Senate Race

"Tomorrow"

In North Dakota, the American Future Fund ran a single ad attacking incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and supporting her opponent, Republican Rick Berg.

Influencing the New Mexico Senate Race

"Tomorrow"

In New Mexico, the American Future Fund sunk at least $435,000 into defeating Democrat Martin Heinrich. They also ran at least one ad they did not disclose spending for.

Influencing the Wisconsin Senate Race

"Paper"

The American Future Fund spent at least $260,000 opposing the election of Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, who was running against former governor Tommy Thompson to fill a seat vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl. On October 26th, they ran a thirty-second ad targeting Baldwin for her support for the EPA's Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule, which the AFF claimed destroyed jobs by forcing paper manufacturers to conform to burdensome regulations. A key claim in the ad comes from an Op-Ed article by Jeff Landin of the Wisconsin Paper Council, who used figures from a 2010 study commissioned by the American Forest and Paper Association and Fisher International, a consulting and information services firm to the pulp and and paper mill industry. Laurie Johnson of the Natural Resources Defense Council has criticized the study for exhibiting "a lack of understanding of even introductory-level economics." [46] The AFF also spent at least $98,000 on a single ad supporting the election of Wisconsin Billionaire Eric Hovde, who was running in the Wisconsin Republican Primary. FEC Filings state that they produced and aired an ad called "Changed" in support of Hovde, but the ad does not appear to exist online. The AFF disclosed spending the money on August 8th, 2012.[47]

Prior Political Activity

2010

In the 2010 election cycle directed its efforts at 14 "liberal" politicians that sat on committees with jurisdiction over energy and agricultural policy.[49]

AFF has also actively campaigned vigorously against Obama's health care reforms. It created several ads targeting the bill, many of included factual inaccuracies.[50]

In total, AFF spent over 26 million dollars in 2010.[51] According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 7.3 million was spent advocating for the "election or defeat of candidates for federal office"[52]

The American Future Fund took at least 4.5 million dollars from PhRMA in 2010. [53]

2008

In 2008, paid for advertising supporting Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who at the time was the co-chair of the Senate Biofuels caucus. In the same year, the group released a radio advertisement criticizing the Indy Racing League for its decision to use Brazilian sugar-based ethanol for its cars.

Ethanol Ties

AFF was started in 2008 with seed money from Bruce Rastetter, co-founder and CEO of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, a large Iowa-based ethanol company.[54] According to the New York Times, in the 2010 elections, "hints of a possible agenda emerge from a look at the politicians on the American Future Fund's hit list. Most have seats on a handful of legislative committees with a direct say in the ethanol industry."[54] Founder Nick Ryan's Concordia Group also counts a number of ethanol industry clients.[54]

Funding

The $400 million Koch network.
The $400 million Koch network uses a maze of nonprofit groups and LLCs to conceal donations and campaign activity
Source: Robert Maguire with the Center for Responsive Politics. Matea Gold and Cristina Rivero/The Washington Post.

In 2008, its founding year, AFF is alleged to have receive $7.5 million in donations. [49] In the 2010 election cycle, AFF admitted to spending $25 million. [55]

Although AFF does not disclose its funders, contributions from at least three nonprofit organizations were revealed because they must disclose the identity of their grant recipients. The shadowy dark money conduit the Center to Protect Patient Rights gave AFF $1.1 million in 2011, $11.7 million in 2010 (about half their total budget), and $1.3 million in 2009.[56] The group also received over $2.4 million[56] in 2010 from the right-wing legal group American Justice Partnership, a Michigan-based 501(c )(4) affiliate of the National Organization of Manufactureres and who list its "partners" as including groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heritage Foundation.[57] Also in 2010, the trade association Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, gave AFF $300,000.[58]

According to a 2014 ProPublica report, "the American Future Fund, which pulled in a whopping $68 million in 2012, got more than 92 percent of that money from Freedom Partners and the Center" and "according to tax and FEC records, the American Future Fund poured at least $19.8 million from the Center and Freedom Partners into elections."[59]

CPPR is run by Sean Noble, who Politico described as a Koch Operative [1], Nobel was hired by the Kochs to coordinate with other conservative superPACs to target Democratic representatives in 2010. [60]

Leadership

Sandra Greiner, a Republican state legislator in Iowa and farmer, is the current president of the AFF. [61]

The following individuals have held leadership positions within the AFF:[62]

External links

References

  1. IRS, Exhibits in complaint against the American Future Fund, organizational website, February 1st, 2011.
  2. Will Evans, Profile: American Future Fund, NPR, accessed February 29th, 2012.
  3. Viveca Novak, Center to Protect Patient Rights Gave Millions in 2011 to Outside Spenders in Election, Open Secrets, Accessed 12/17/2012.
  4. Viveca, Novak, Center to Protect Patient Rights Gave Millions in 2011 to Outside Spenders in Election, Open Secrets, Accessed 12/17/2012.
  5. American Future Fund, About Us organizational website, Accessed February 29th, 2012.
  6. American Future Fund, The real state of the union, video upload, uploaded January 23, 2012.
  7. American Future Fund, Obama's Wall Street, video upload, uploeaded February 24th, 2012.
  8. Factcheck.org, Obama white house full of wall street executives, organizational website, Accessed February 29th, 2012.
  9. American Future Fund, AFF Launches National Cable Ad “The Real State of the Union”, press release, January 23, 2012.
  10. American Future Fund, AFF Launches TV Ad “Obama’s Wall Street”, press release, February 26, 2012.
  11. American Future Fund, AFF Asks Shouldn’t Someone Be In Charge?, press release, April 24, 2012.
  12. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  13. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  14. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  15. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  16. American Future Fund, AFF Releases New TV Ad “Promises” in Minnesota, press release, September 26, 2012.
  17. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  18. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  19. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  20. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  21. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  22. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  23. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  24. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  25. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  26. Pemy Levy, American Future Fund Launches Pro-Romney Spot In Wisconsin, Talking Points Memo, October 22, 2012.
  27. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  28. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  29. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  30. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  31. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  32. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  33. American Future Fund, AFF Drops More Than $5 Million in Battleground States, press release - accessed via Wayback Machine, November 1, 2012.
  34. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  35. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  36. Opensecrets.org: Outside Spending Profile for Arizona's, First and Ninth congressional districts, Accessed January 8th, 2012.
  37. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  38. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  39. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  40. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  41. Opensecrets.org Outside Spending Report, California's 26th District, organizational website, Accessed January 9th, 2012.
  42. Rachel Weiner, Americans for Prosperity tries softer, $6 million touch, The Washington Post, August 24, 2012.
  43. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  44. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  45. American Future Fund, AFF Releases New TV Ad in New Mexico, “The Heinrich Report”, press release, June 6, 2012.
  46. Sara Jerving, Koch-Linked Group launched Ad targeting Tammy Baldwin for Paper Jobs, PRWatch.org, October 26th, 2012.
  47. FEC: Independent Expenditure Report, American Future Fund, organizational report, Submitted August 8th, 2012.
  48. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, Schedule 5-E, accessed May 28, 2013.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Jim Rutenberg, Don Van Natta, and Mike McIntire, Offering Donors Secrecy, and Going on Attack, New York Times, October 11, 2010.
  50. Fackcheck.org, Future Fund’s Faulty Fusillade, organizational website, March 19, 2010.
  51. Viveca Novak and Robert Maguire, Dark Money Train Open Secrets, Accessed February 29th, 2012.
  52. Citizens for Ethics, CREW asks IRS to Investigate American Future Fund, organizational website, February 1th, 2011.
  53. Michael Beckel, drug lobby gave 9.4 million to nonprofits that spent big on the 2010 election, Nation of Change, accessed February 29th, 2012.
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 Jim Rutenberb, Don Van Natta Jr., Mike McIntire,"Offering Donors Secrecy, and Going on an Attack",New York Times, October 11, 2012.
  55. Factcheck.org, American Future Fund, organizational website, September 18, 2011.
  56. 56.0 56.1 Open Secrets, "Top Organizations Disclosing Donations to American Future Fund", Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed January 14, 2012.
  57. American Justice Partnership, Our National Partners, organizational website, accessed January 14, 2012.
  58. Viveca Novak and Robert Maguire,Donors to GOP's Nondisclosing Nonprofits Travel in Familiar Networks, Center for Responsive Politics, February 27, 2012.
  59. Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, "The Dark Money Man: How Sean Noble Moved the Kochs’ Cash into Politics and Made Millions," ProPublica, February 14, 2014.
  60. Lee Fang, Koch Operative Steered $55 Million To Front Groups Airing Ads Against Democrats; Ads Assailed Candidates Over Abortion, 9/11, Medicare, Republic Report, May 19th, 2012.
  61. Fackcheck.org, American Future Fund, organizational website, September 18, 2011.
  62. Will Evans, Profile: American Future Fund, National Public Radio, August 20, 2008.