Americans for Prosperity Foundation

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Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) is a section 501(c)(3) organization which operates as the counterpart of Americans for Prosperity, a section 501(c)(4) organization. On its website, Americans for Prosperity states that the two organizations are "committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits."[1]

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation is an "associate" member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks.”[2]

Founded by the Kochs

According to its literature, AFP aims to promote economic policy that supports business, and restrains regulation by government.

An August 2010 article in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer tied New York philanthropist and Koch Industries co-owner, David Koch, to the creation and funding of the AFP.[3] Ira Stoll of FutureOfCapitalism.com criticized the article, as implying that, "left-wing think tanks are nonpartisan watchdogs, but the free-market ones are part of some covert stealth nefarious plot", and referred to the open data already available about Koch-connected think tanks.[4][5] Matt Welch of Reason magazine labeled the New Yorker article a "hit-piece".[4]

Kate Zernike, in The New York Times, attributed the founding of the AFP to the Koch Brothers. [6]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Activities and programs

Most of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation's activities are carried out by its 501(c)(4) organization, Americans for Prosperity.

Grassroots Leadership Academy

The Grassroots Leadership Academy is a training school for right-wing activists funded and run by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF). GLA states its mission as helping activists to "build the leadership skills you need to fight for freedom and against the progressive policies and false narratives of the left."[7] The Academy offers three activist certifications as part of its program: Grassroots Activist, Community Mobilizer, and Grassroots Leadership.[8]

Bridge to Wellbeing

Launched in 2015, Americans for Prosperity Foundation describes the Bridge to Wellbeing program as "expert coaching on topics like practical financial habits, personal health, pursuing new opportunities, and community engagement and wellbeing, all with the aim of providing individuals with the tools and knowledge to improve their quality of life and strengthen their communities."[9]

The Bridge to Wellbeing program also helps Americans for Prosperity Foundation to maintain its Internal Revenue Service status,

"Sometimes, we have not been as good at explaining the virtues of economic freedom and individual liberty to people who are struggling," said Americans for Prosperity's president Tim Phillips. He also conceded that AFP Foundation's Bridge to Wellbeing initiative helps satisfy an Internal Revenue Service requirement that the group focus its spending on educational or charitable purposes, not political or policy advocacy. "Part of it is we are a social welfare organization. And, so, yes, we do try to help folks live more prosperous lives. That's not related to direct policy."[10]

John Marshall, editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, describes Bridge to Wellbeing as,

"The Kochs’ ‘war on poverty’ includes classes teaching poor people – or at least people willing to show up for a free hot meal – how to prepare “dinner on a dime” and lessons on “couponing”, along with the free hot meals, Turkey giveaways and guides for “learning about freedom. In other words, a good bit of the outreach is not only laissez-faire propaganda but actually tips on how to be poor more effectively, making the most of coupons, cooking more economical meals and other tips which certainly may be helpful at some level but seem like ones poor people might be in a better position to teach GOP operatives rather than vice versa." [11]

Ties to the Trump Administration

Former AFPF Employees in Trump Administration

As of April 2018:[12]

  • Eli Henry Miller (former Senior Development Officer), Department of the Treasury
  • Patrick Burke Shaheen (former Field Staffer), Department of Education

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

Through 2016 Americans for Prosperity Foundation received $1,655,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.[13]

Bradley detailed the most recent grants in internal documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Below is a description of the grants prepared by CMD. The quoted text was written by Bradley staff.

2015: $275,000 to support two projects. The grant was used to support the Bridge to Wellbeing project and the Grassroots Leadership Academy (GLA). As of this grant, AFP received $1,305,000 from the Bradley Foundation, including $100,000 to open AFP’s first Wisconsin field office in 2005. The Bridge to Wellbeing spun off from AFP’s “Value Added Initiative” (see below).

2014: $100,000 to support the “Value Added Events Initiative.” “The Initiative is designed to contact people who have disengaged in terms of exercise of their citizenship. The project consists of putting on a series of community events in which one way or another emphasize the democratic principles and value with a special emphasis on the value of economic freedom. Target audiences include mothers, millennials individuals preparing to enter the workforce, small business owners and senior citizens. Programs and activities for each of those audiences will be tailored in such a fashion so as to equip members of those audiences with the tools they need to become more self sufficient, self reliant and free of government support programs.”

The Initiative began in 2013. According to Bradley, AFP refined its target audience and goals based on focus group testing, polling and follow up surveys. In 2015 the Initiative primarily targeted women aged 33-55, a key voting demographic in the 2016 election. “Essentially, AFPF has gleaned from last year’s programs that women in this age group were most aligned with economic values most closely associated with its understanding of economic freedom… It is expected that the events for women, as well as millennials and seniors, will be held in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Virginia…One year ago, AFPF initiated a project to reach outside the already engaged base of active citizens by trying to identify and involve the ‘disengaged middle’ in the policy process. The first year’s work helped AFP refine both the formula it established to accomplish its purpose and the audiences it hoped to reach. Last year’s work told them what type of events worked and provided a clear outline of need for the next twelve months – women ages 33-55 and millennials.”

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Funding

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation does not disclose its donors, but some of its funding sources are known through other tax filings. AFPF's known funders include:

Core Financials

2016[14]

  • Total Revenue: $27,147,503
  • Total Expenses: $23,028,942
  • Net Assets: $7,256,806

Grants Distributed

  • SM Wright Foundation: $32,000

2015[15]

  • Total Revenue: $22,192,958
  • Total Expenses: $27,815,002
  • Net Assets: $2,894,482

Grants Distributed

2014[16]

  • Total Revenue: $23,284,137
  • Total Expenses: $21,006,809
  • Net Assets: $8,516,526

Grants Distributed

2013[17]

  • Total Revenue: $13,310,464
  • Total Expenses: $17,700,992
  • Net Assets: $6,239,198

Grants Distributed

2012[18]

  • Total Revenue: $24,029,062
  • Total Expenses: $26,587,053
  • Net Assets: $10,629,726

Grants Distributed

Personnel

As of November 2017:[14]

Staff

  • Luke Hilgemann, Chief Executive Officer
  • Tim Phillips, President
  • Timothy Carnahan, Treasurer, CFO
  • Robert Heaton, Treasurer, CFO (part year)
  • Slade O'Brien, Vice President, Grassroots Leadership Academy
  • Brent Gardner, VP/Government Affairs
  • Teresa Oelke, VP/State Operations
  • Chris Fink, COO
  • John Pike, VP of Technology
  • Victor Bernson, VP of Legal and General Counsel
  • Jennifer Stafano, VP-Bridge to Well Being (part year)
  • Alex Guerreiro, VP of HR

Former Staff

  • Lindsay Matlock, Director of Operations

Board of Directors

Former Board Members

Contact Information

Americans for Prosperity Foundation
1310 N. Courthouse Rd., Ste. 700
Arlington, VA 22201
Website: https://americansforprosperityfoundation.org/
Phone: 703-224-3200
Email: info@afphq.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/afpfoundation
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFPFoundation/

Articles and resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2016

2015

2014

2013

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Mission, Americans for Prosperity website, accessed August 21, 2007
  2. State Policy Network, Directory, State Policy Network, 2016.
  3. Mayer, Jane (2009-01-07). The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama. The New Yorker. Retrieved on 2010-10-21.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Matt Welch (August 24, 2010). In Which "left-wing think tanks are nonpartisan watchdogs, but the free-market ones are part of some covert stealth nefarious plot". Reason: Hit and Run. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
  5. Stoll, Ira (August 23, 2010). The New Yorker on David and Charles Koch. FutureOfCapitalism.com. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
  6. Zernike, Kate (October 19, 2010). "Secretive Republican Donors Are Planning Ahead". New York Times. 
  7. Grassroots Leadership Academy, Mission, Grassroots Leadership Academy, 2016.
  8. Grassroots Leadership Academy, Certifications, Grassroots Leadership Academy, 2016.
  9. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, “Bridge to Wellbeing” Programs Inspire Individuals By Promoting Personal, Financial and Community Health, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, July 6, 2015.
  10. Charles Pierce, The Billionaire Koch Brothers Teach the Poor How to Be Poor, Esquire, December 14, 2015.
  11. John Marshall, Scrooge Counter-Programming, Talking Points Memo, December 14, 2015.
  12. Propublica, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Trump Town, April 2018.
  13. Bradley Files, [on file with CMD], Bradley Files, 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 9, 2017.
  15. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2016.
  16. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 11, 2015.
  17. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2014.
  18. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2013.
  19. About AFP, Americans for Prosperity website, February 13, 2008. (Now available only in the Internet Archive).

External resources

External articles