Political leanings: Conservative/Libertarian
2020 total spending: $60.6 million for the super PAC alone
Americans for Prosperity, a “social welfare” organization, along with Americans for Prosperity Action and Americans for Prosperity Foundation are conservative/libertarian groups heavily financed by Koch Industries, which is owned largely by billionaire Charles Koch.
Americans for Prosperity says it engages in “broad-based grassroots outreach to advocate for long-term solutions” to “unsustainable government spending and debt, a broken immigration system, a rigged economy, and a host of other issues.”
Emily Seidel, the former director of special projects at Koch Companies Public Sector, has been the chief executive officer of AFP since 2017. As reported by the Washington Post, Tim Phillips, who had served as the president since 2006, was “forced out of the organization” in late 2021. Phillips’ biography page has been removed, and Seidel is now listed on the site as AFP’s president and CEO.
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 does not have to disclose its donors.
AFP Foundation is a public charity registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3).
AFP Action, which was established in September 2018 in Arlington, Virginia, is registered as an independent-expenditure-only committee, also known as a super PAC, with the Federal Election Commission. 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 must disclose its donors.
In June 2019, 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. The four traditional PACs combined raised less than $120,000 in 2020.
During the 2020 election cycle, AFP Action raised $60.4 million, including nearly $6.5 million from the Freedom Partners Action Fund PAC and $8 million from Koch Industries, FEC filings show. Freedom Partners Action Fund is a super PAC that was unveiled in 2014 as part of Koch’s growing network of political committees.
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 2020, Koch Industries had revenue of $115 billion.
In 1980, David Koch, who helped establish Americans for Prosperity with his brother, Charles, ran as the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. David Koch died in August 2019.
AFP Action spent nearly $60.6 million in the 2020 election cycle, focusing largely on tight Senate races. Its largest independent expenditures were in support of Republican incumbents, including about $13 million for Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who lost to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff election. AFP Action spent an additional $3.6 million on ads opposing Ossoff. The group also successfully spent $9.7 million in support of Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina and $3.4 million to aid Sen. John Cornyn in Texas.
For the 2022 election cycle, as of May 31, AFP Action had raised more than $20 million, including $6.5 million from Koch Industries.
Other major donors included Ronald Cameron, owner and chairman of Mountaire Corporation, T. Denny Sanford, founder of First Premier Bank, and Craig Duchossois, the executive chair of the Duchossois Group. Cameron gave $1.5 million, and Sanford and Duchossis both gave $1 million each.
AFP Action has spent more than $1.6 million in support of Eric Schmitt, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri. It also spent more than $1.3 million supporting David Purdue, who lost his bid to become the 2022 Republican nominee for governor in Georgia.
FactCheck.org Undergraduate Fellow Sydney Nixon contributed to this article.