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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Americans for Prosperity

Players Guide 2020Political leanings: Conservative/Libertarian

2018 total spending: $10 million for the super PAC alone

Americans for Prosperity, a “social welfare” organization, along with Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation are conservative/libertarian groups heavily financed by Koch Industries, owned by billionaire Charles Koch

Americans for Prosperity states its purpose as promoting “broad-based grassroots outreach to advocate long-term solutions” to issues including “unsustainable government spending and debt, a broken immigration system, a rigged economy.” AFP has 38 statewide chapters and claims to have recruited over 3.2 million activists and 100,000 financial supporters.

Tim Phillips, a Republican political consultant, has been president of AFP since 2006. Americans for Prosperity is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(4), meaning it can operate for the “promotion of social welfare,” and can’t spend more than half of its budget on political activities. It also doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

AFP Foundation is a public charity registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3). AFP Action is the political action committee for AFP. AFP Action was established in September 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. As a super PAC, it can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money, but can’t coordinate spending with political campaigns or donate directly to candidates. It also must disclose its donors.

AFP Action’s mission statement highlights a dedication to lowering taxes, eliminating trade barriers and other “regulations that stifle innovation,” decreasing health care costs, reforming criminal justice and immigration, improving education, and maintaining veterans’ benefits. In June 2019, Americans for Prosperity’s CEO, Emily Seidel, announced that AFP would be adding four, issue-specific PACs to its network: Uniting for Economic Opportunity, Uniting for Free Expression, Uniting for Free Trade and Uniting for Immigration Reform. These PACs can contribute directly to candidates. 

During the 2020 election cycle, AFP Action has raised $47.5 million, as of Oct. 14; nearly $6.5 million came from the Freedom Partners Action Fund PAC, and another $7 million came directly from Koch Industries.

Freedom Partners Action Fund is a super PAC that was unveiled in 2014 as part of Koch’s growing network of PACs

Charles Koch took over his father’s oil refinery in the 1960s and rebranded it as Koch Industries. The company has since diversified its portfolio by expanding into energy, finance, agriculture and technology. In 2018, Koch Industries had revenue of $110 billion

In 1980, David Koch, who helped established Americans for Prosperity with his brotherran as the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian PartyDavid Koch died in August 2019.

Americans for Prosperity Action has focused largely on tight Senate races in the 2020 cycle. As of Oct. 26, AFP Action’s largest independent expenditures have been in support of Republican incumbents: nearly $11 million to help reelect Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, about $7.5 million for Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and $3.1 million for Sen. John Cornyn in Texas. 

During the 2018 midterm elections, Americans for Prosperity Action also targeted key Senate races. Most notably, AFP Action spent $1.4 million opposing Democrat Bill Nelson in Florida, and more than $3 million supporting Republican Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee. In the 2018 cycle, AFP Action raised $12.6 million, and had independent expenditures, which are expenditures for communications advocating for or against certain candidates, totaling more than $6.7 million.

According to 990 forms filed with the IRS, American for Prosperity, the 501(c)(4), received nearly $57 million in contributions and grants in 2017 and spent $2.9 million on political campaign activities. AFP Foundation raised $17.7 million in contributions and grants that year.