Political leanings: Democratic/liberal
Spending target: Unknown
American Bridge 21st Century is a liberal super PAC that conducts opposition research to aid Democratic candidates and organizations.
The group was founded in November 2010 by David Brock, a conservative-turned-liberal activist. After making a name for himself as a self-described “right-wing hit man,” Brock reinvented himself as a liberal crusader. In 2004, Brock founded Media Matters, which monitors the media for “conservative misinformation.”
American Bridge raised and spent nearly $20 million for the 2016 elections. However, little of that went toward independent expenditures — advertising that expressly advocates for the election or defeat of specific candidates. It spent only $143,000 on independent expenditures, mostly against Donald Trump. Instead, most of its money went for employee salaries, including opposition researchers, and fundraising consultants.
As a super PAC, American Bridge can accept unlimited donations and is largely funded by major Democratic donors and labor unions. Its largest donor in 2016 was billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, who donated $2 million. Businesswoman Susie Tompkins Buell donated $950,000. Buell co-founded the clothing lines North Face and Esprit with her then-husband, Doug Tompkins. Anne Earhart contributed $750,000. Earhart is an oil fortune heiress who contributed to several liberal political groups in 2016.
As of April, American Bridge had raised and spent about $13 million in the 2018 election cycle. Cynthia Simon Skjodt, daughter of the late developer Melvin Simon, had given the group $1 million. Other major donors include Earhart, granddaughter of Jean Paul Getty, who donated $300,000, and Tom Hagen, chairman of Erie Indemnity, a publicly traded insurance company, who gave $250,000.
In January 2017, the Washington Free Beacon obtained the super PAC’s outline for the 2018 midterms. According to the outline, American Bridge plans to work in 16 to 20 Senate races. The group said it has “already begun research on known Republican Senate targets like Josh Mandel in Ohio and Dean Heller in Nevada.” American Bridge will also be heavily involved in the 2018 gubernatorial races.