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AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons) is a U.S. nonprofit organization representing people age 50 years and older, with 37 million members. The national headquarters is in Washington, D.C. with local offices in each state. AARP provides information of interest to older people through publications such as the monthly AARP Bulletin and the bimonthly AARP The Magazine, advocates on public policy issues by doing extensive lobbying, and along with business partners sells auto, homeowners and life insurance, long-term health care insurance, and Medicare supplement insurance.
Membership dues accounted for just under $200 million of AARP's $1.4 billion in revenue in 2014, while royalties from business partners provided nearly $800 million.
The AARP is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. Affiliated entities include:
- AARP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
- AARP Institute, a 501(c)(3), holds charitable gift annuity funds for the AARP Foundation
- Legal Council for the Elderly, a 501(c)(3), "Provides free or low cost legal assistance to DC elderly"
- AARP Experience Corp, a 501(c)(3), organizes tutoring and mentoring programs
- AARP Insurance Plan, a 501(c)(4), a trust that holds "certain AARP group health insurance policies"
- AARP Financial Services Corporation, a taxable real estate holding company wholly owned by AARP
- AARP Services Inc., a taxable subsidiary, provides marketing and develops products such as insurance and discount programs, wholly owned by AARP
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
AARP was a "Trustee's Level" sponsor of ALEC's 2016 annual meeting held July 27-29 in Indianapolis, Indiana, according to a program obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. Attendees also each received "an AARP branded portable USB power pack" at registration. After "a torrent of protests from members and advocacy groups," as described by the L.A. Times, AARP announced on August 5, 2016 that it would not renew its membership.
The L.A. Times contacted AARP for a statement about its relationship to ALEC:
- On Monday [August 1, 2016], in response to our queries, AARP gave a bit more detail on its relationship with ALEC while reiterating, "AARP’s engagement with ALEC is NOT an endorsement of the organization’s policies either past or present." It specifically disavowed support for ALEC model bills seeking a constitutional amendment for a balanced federal budget, which is a direct attack on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the repeal of the Affordable Care Act; nor the other model legislation posted on ALEC’s website. AARP has advocated in opposition of these proposals in the states and in Congress and will continue to do so." ALEC hasn’t responded to our request for comment.
- AARP’s statement acknowledged that it paid a fee to ALEC in 2016 to provide "an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities from a position of strength at ALEC’s annual meeting." AARP added, "given that Republicans control one or more chambers in 39 of the nation’s 50 state legislatures, we believe having a seat at the table at the ALEC annual meeting was necessary to our mission of representing the interests and needs of people 50-plus and their families."
According to an August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian, AARP had terminated its ALEC membership on April 16, 2013.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
AARP reported $3,890,000 in federal lobbying expenses in the first half of 2016, and $7,559,000 in 2015.
- Total Revenue: $1,399,004,768
- Membership Dues: $196,669,773
- Program Service Revenue: $181,576,151
- Royalties: $798,788,206
- Total Expenses: $1,314,499,116
- Net Assets: $1,041,636,938
As of 2016:
- Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO
- Martha M. Boudreau, EVP and Chief Communications & Marketing Officer
- Hollis "Terry" Bradwell III, EVP and Chief Enterprise Strategy & Innovation Officer
- Kevin Donnellan, EVP and Chief of Staff
- Lawrence Flanagan, President and CEO, AARP Services Inc.
- Scott Frisch, EVP and Chief Operating Officer
- Nancy LeaMond, EVP and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer
- Cindy Lewin, EVP and General Counsel
- Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President, AARP Foundation
- Nancy M. Smith, EVP and Corporate Secretary
- Debra Whitman, EVP and Chief Public Policy Officer
Board of Directors
As of 2016:
- Joan R. Ruff, Board Chair
- Libby Sartain, Board Vice Chair
- Jewell D. Hoover, Secretary/Treasurer
- Eric J. Schneidewind, President 2016-2018
- Catherine Alicia Georges, President-elect
- Robert Blancato, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Joseph F. Coughlin, PhD, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Gretchen M. Dahlen, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Martha M. Dally, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Ronald E. Daly, Sr., Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Beth Ellard, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Annette Franqui, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Lloyd Johnson, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Timothy M. Kelly, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Neal Lane, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Janet E. Porter, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Honorable David M. Walker, Member, AARP Board of Directors
- Edward A. Watson, Member, AARP Board of Directors
601 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20049
Resources and Articles
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- Barbara T. Dreyfuss, "The Seduction", The American Prospect, May 12, 2004.
- "AARP Mobilizing to Hound 2008 Candidates", NewsMax.com/Associated Press, March 22, 2007.
- Robert Pear, "AARP Says It Will Become Major Medicare Insurer While Remaining a Consumer Lobby", The New York Times, April 17, 2007.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "On Issues From Medicare to Medication, AARP's Money Will Be There", Washington Post, April 24, 2007.
- "AARP Profile," Hoovers, accessed July 2016.
- AARP, "2014 IRS Form 990," organization tax filing, June 23, 2015. Archived by ProPublica.
- Nick Surgey and Calvin Sloan, "Revealed: AARP Is Funding ALEC," Center for Media and Democracy, July 28, 2016.
- AARP, Facebook: After hearing from many of you, we’ve decided not to renew our membership to ALEC., social media post, August 5, 2016.
- Michael Hiltzik, "A shamed AARP withdraws from right-wing lobbying organization ALEC," L.A. Times, August 5, 2016.
- Michael Hiltzik, "Why is AARP cozying up to the right-wing group ALEC while big corporations flee?," L.A. Times, August 1, 2016.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
- Center for Responsive Politics, "AARP," lobbying profile, Open Secrets database, accessed July 2016.
- AARP, "Executive Team," organization website, accessed July 2016.
- AARP, "Board of Directors," organization website, accessed July 2016.