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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Americans for Job Security

playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Pro-business/free-market/Republican

Spending target: Unknown

Americans for Job Security has been active since 1997. It describes itself as a “pro-business issue advocacy organization.” It also says it is independent and bipartisan, but it leans Republican. Its president is Stephen DeMaura, a former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party. It was founded by David Carney, the former political director for President George H.W. Bush; Michael Dubke, the former executive director of the Republican think tank Ripon Society and founder of the Republican media services firm Crossroads Media LLC; and Robert Vagley, the former president of the American Insurance Association.

The group has close ties with other Republican organizations. In fact, DeMaura actually works alongside Crossroads Media and the Republican super PAC American Crossroads in the same Virginia office space, a well-known headquarters for Republican organizations that also housed consultants for the Romney campaign in 2012. Crossroads Media’s other clients include the Republican Governors Association, Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee

AJS is organized as a 501(c)(6) “business league,” and it does not disclose its donors. It says only that its members are “businesses, business leaders and entrepreneurs.” A 2010 examination of the group by the New York Times said: “Its deep ties to a Republican consulting operation raise questions about whether, under cover of its tax-exempt mission ‘to promote a strong, job-creating economy,’ the group is largely a funnel for anonymous donations.”

As of mid-March, Americans for Job Security had not made any independent expenditures for the 2014 election. In the 2012 election cycle, it spent nearly $16 million in independent expenditures, most of which was spent campaigning against President Obama. It also spent nearly $650,000 campaigning against Wisconsin Republican primary contender Eric Hovde, who was running for Senate against Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor. 

In 2011 and 2012, the group gave away $26.3 million in grants, almost all of which went to the Center to Protect Patient Rights — now called American Encore Inc. — an organization with only a post office box in Phoenix as an address. Run by Sean Noble — a Republican operative tied to the Koch brothers — CPPR gave more than $182 million in grants to other organizations between 2009 and 2012, including $44 million to conservative groups in 2010. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “CPPR has been the linchpin in one of the most complex networks of dark money in the country.”

Both CPPR and AJS were caught up in controversy in California in 2012. California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and the state attorney general filed suit against an Arizona nonprofit called Americans for Responsible Leadership to reveal the source of ARL’s $11 million contribution to a California campaign committee, which took positions on certain state ballot propositions. ARL identified the source of the contribution as AJS, which had funneled the money through the Center to Protect Patient Rights. 

The Fair Political Practices Commission called this “the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history.” A settlement reached a year later required CPPR and ARL to pay $1 million to the state for not disclosing independent expenditure contributions. In addition, the two California groups that received money from CPPR were required to pay the state $15.08 million — the amount that they had received from CPPR without disclosing the source. AJS wasn’t found at fault. The California commission said that AJS’ contribution to CPPR didn’t need to be legally disclosed since it was not earmarked for any specific purpose, so the Arizona group was wrong to say AJS was the source of the funds.

Americans for Job Security has given funds to other conservative groups. AJS gave $1.1 million to a nonprofit called the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, of which DeMaura is the treasurer. Taxpayers Protection Alliance has fought against green building regulations and advocated for a lower corporate tax rate. During the 2012 election cycle, AJS also gave funds to the Coalition for American Jobs ($442,000), American Tradition Partnership ($70,750), Texans for Fiscal Responsibility ($40,000), American Action Network ($25,000) and Americans for Limited Government ($10,000).

AJS was involved in another controversy in 2008, when the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against AJS, saying AJS had violated federal election law by, among other things, failing to register as a political committee. However, the FEC commissioners were divided on the matter, along partisan lines, and dismissed the complaint.

When the Supreme Court later struck down longstanding federal laws against campaign spending by corporations and labor unions, DeMaura told the Wall Street Journal the decision was an “unequivocal victory” for those “who believe in free speech and the rights of organizations such as ours to promote our point of view.”

Although AJS is not required to publicly disclose the names of its donors, the Center for Responsive Politics discovered its donors by examining the IRS filings of the donating organizations. In late 2010, the Center to Protect Patient Rights gave AJS nearly $5 million. Other large contributions over the past four years came from conservative groups, including nearly $3 million from the Wellspring Committee, $2 million from Crossroads GPS, $1.4 million from Freedom’s Watch, $500,000 from New Majority California and $250,000 from Americans for Limited Government.

During the 2010 election cycle, AJS backed Republican Scott Brown, who won a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. It also was active in the Arkansas Democratic primary, attacking union-backed candidate Bill Halter, who was running for the Senate nomination against incumbent Blanche Lincoln. Halter lost.

AJS also dove into a number of Republican primaries in 2010. In the Michigan race for the Republican nomination for governor, it attacked Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was later defeated. In the Republican Senate primary in Colorado, it supported Ken Buck, the tea party favorite, who defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. In the Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina, it attacked Rep. J. Gresham Barrett, who lost.