American Action Network

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American Action Network
Formation February 2010
Type Issue advocacy
Legal status 501(c)(4)
  • Washington, D.C.
Brian O. Walsh
Norm Coleman

The American Action Network is a nonprofit issue advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. which promotes center-right public policy. It was established in 2010 by Fred Malek and Norm Coleman as a 501(c)(4) organization.

The American Action Network's sister organization, the American Action Forum, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focusing on policy research. The American Action Forum is run by former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Holtz-Eakin.

American Action Network officials also run the Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC, an independent expenditure PAC focused on electing a House Republican majority.


According to the American Action Network website, the organization's purpose is to "create, encourage and promote center-right policies..."[1] It aims to accomplish this through nationwide issue advocacy campaigns using print and television advertisements, direct mail, grassroots organizing, robocalls, online advertising and online videos.[2][3]

In May 2011, Campaigns and Elections reported that the American Action Network spent more than $25 million in the 2010 election cycle.[4] According to USA Today the organization spent $17 million on issue advocacy and grassroots organizing and $5.5 million on candidates and political activities.[5] In the 2010 elections the group funded political advertisements in 22 congressional districts nationwide including Colorado, Connecticut, South Dakota, Utah, Washington State and Wisconsin.[6][7][8][9]

In July 2012, Politico reported that the American Action Network planned to spend a minimum of $10 million to establish "a legislation-focused ground game in a number of states". The Politico article also called the American Action Network "one of the key outside forces on the right".[10]

In July 2013, Politico reported that the group has spent more than $750,000 in ad buys on promoting the Gang of Eight immigration bill S.744.[11]

On November 10, 2015, the group ran a TV ad during a Republican presidential debate. The ad attacks the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, portraying it with stereotypes about the Soviet Union, and telling viewers that they will be denied loans because of the CFPB.

History and organization[edit]

The American Action Network is an advocacy group founded in February 2010 by Fred Malek, founder of Thayer Capital and former Republican National Committee deputy chairman. The organization was founded to promote and support center right issues, conceived in part to counterbalance the left-wing Center for American Progress.[12][13] The organization calls itself an "action tank" or "a think-and-do-tank" and is classified as a 501(c)(4).[13][14]

Former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman was hired in 2010 as its CEO.[7] He now serves as chairman of the board[12][13] and also serves on the board of the American Action Forum, a sister organization.[15] In 2011 Brian Walsh, a former political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, was hired as the group's president, replacing Rob Collins, the former chief of staff to Eric Cantor.[4][16] The organization's board members include Fred Malek, Vin Weber, Mel Martinez and Thomas M. Reynolds.[12]

Funding and tax status[edit]

Donations to the American Action Network are not tax deductible due to its 501(c)(4) status, and the organization is not required to disclose the source of donations. Tax records show the group raised nearly $27.5 million between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011, including one $7 million donation.[5] Critics of the American Action Network have argued that the organization's advertisements contravene its requirements under its 501(c)(4) status. Malek has stated in response that such claims are "baseless".[17][18]

Related organizations[edit]

The American Action Forum is a partner organization with the American Action Network, operating as a separate 501(c)(3) organization.[13] The focus of the Action Forum is policy research.[12][19] Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, serves as its president.[13][15]

Members of the American Action Network also run the Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC which was formed in October 2011 for the purpose of supporting Republican candidates in House races. The organization aims to maintain the Republican House majority.[20] The group held an event in November 2011 that included appearances from Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and representative Pete Sessions from Texas.[21] Board members include Fred Malek, Norm Coleman, Brian Walsh and former representative Tom Reynolds [22]

In January 2011, the American Action Network created the Hispanic Leadership Network to bring more Hispanics to the Republican party.[23] According to the organization's website, the Hispanic Leadership Network is a "sustained effort to engage the Hispanic Community on center right issues". Key members include executive director Jennifer Korn, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former United States Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.[24]


  1. ^ "About". American Action Network. Retrieved 3 Mar 2015. 
  2. ^ Conston, Dan (9 July 2012). "AAN Releases Web Videos 'Repeal'". American Action Network. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Press Release: American Action Network Launches Advertising Campaign Supporting Senator Hatch's Fight to Balance the Budget" (Press release). American Action Network. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Former NRCC Political Director Takes Over at American Action Network". Campaigns & Elections. May 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Schouten, Fredreka (16 May 2012). "Conservative group gets anonymous $7M". USA Today. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Cillizza, Chris (28 November 2011). "Afternoon Fix: Maloney to run against Tomblin again". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Brunner, Jim (13 July 2010). "Conservative group runs 'tennis shoes' ad against Murray". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Cillizza, Chris (3 September 2010). "RGA drops $2 million on ads in Florida". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Kurtzleben, Danielle (21 October 2010). "House Party Committees Top List of Outside Spenders". US News & World Report. 
  10. ^ Haberman, Maggie (8 July 2012). "American Action Network launches $10 million effort in 'orphan states'". Politico. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c d Cillizza, Chris (15 February 2010). "Here's one Democratic idea the Republicans are adopting". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Calmes, Jackie (4 February 2010). "Emerging G.O.P. Group to Promote Conservative Ideas". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Abramson, Jill (17 October 2010). "Return of the Secret Donors". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Dumain, Emma; Kim, Anne L. (26 February 2010). "People on the Move". Congressional Quarterly Today. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  16. ^ Coyner, Kristin (17 April 2011). "Politics: Walsh". Congressional Quarterly Weekly. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Farnam, T.W.; Eggen, Dan (10 March 2011). "Lenient IRS rules may help groups shield campaign donors' identities". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (28 September 2011). "Watchdogs Call Out 4 Nonprofits as Too Political for Tax Exemption". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Horowitz, Jason (25 October 2010). "Money makes his world go round". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Allen, Mike; Mak, Tim (13 October 2011). "New GOP Super PAC for House races". Politico. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  21. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (14 October 2011). "New Super PAC Forming To Back G.O.P. Majority". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "About". Congressional Leadership Fund. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  23. ^ Wides-Munoz, Laura (13 January 2012). "Jeb Bush guides Republican outreach to Latinos". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "About HLN". Hispanic Leadership Network. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

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