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 $25 million, as of May 31; nearly $6.5 million came from the Freedom Partners Action Fund PAC, and another $7 million came directly from Koch Industries.
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.
Americans for Prosperity Action has focused on Senate races in swing states during the 2020 cycle. As of July 7, AFP Action’s largest disbursements have been in support of Republican incumbents: $970,914 for Sen. John Cornyn in Texas and nearly $1.3 million for Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina.
During the 2018 midterm elections, Americans for Prosperity Action also targeted Senate races in swing states. 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.
There has been no announcement on the amount Americans for Prosperity plans on spending during the 2020 election. However, in January, Koch officials shared with CNN they aim to double or triple their participation this cycle, compared with the midterm elections. During the 2018 midterm elections, AFP Action was active in 64 races.