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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

American Action Network


Political leanings: GOP/Right-center

Spending target: $25 million


The American Action Network was formed in February 2010 by Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota, and Rob Collins, a former chief of staff to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. Coleman serves as the group’s chief executive officer. Collins is its president.

The American Action Network is a 501(c)(4) and one of two organizations formed at the same time by a group of like-minded Republicans. The American Action Network describes itself as an "action tank." In practice it spends to attack Democratic candidates and support Republicans including candidates this year in Alaska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. The "sister organization" and policy arm is American Action Forum, which is classified as a 501(c)(3). Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, is president of the American Action Forum.

Neither arm has to disclose its donors, but some major GOP fundraisers and donors sit on the network’s board of directors. They include: New York venture capitalist Kenneth Langone, who has donated nearly $500,000 to federal candidates and parties since 1989, and Fred Malek of Virginia, who served as a co-chairman of McCain’s fundraising committee in 2008 (and who chairs the boards of both the network and the forum.) Langone is co-founder of Home Depot. Malek is founder of Thayer Capital Partners. Prominent board members of the network also include Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In its mission statement, the American Action Network says it seeks to promote “center-right policies.” Langone told Bloomberg Television: “We’re not going to focus on the social issues. We’re going to talk about jobs, the economy, defense, terrorism.“

According to the Washington Post, the group is expected to spend about $25 million in 2010.