American Conservative Union

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American Conservative Union
American Conservative Union (logo).gif
Formation 1964; 52 years ago (1964)
Coordinates 38°54′02″N 77°01′50″W / 38.9005°N 77.0306°W / 38.9005; -77.0306Coordinates: 38°54′02″N 77°01′50″W / 38.9005°N 77.0306°W / 38.9005; -77.0306
Website American Conservative Union

The American Conservative Union (ACU) is an American political organization advocating conservative policies, and is the oldest such conservative lobbying organization in the country.[1][not in citation given] The ACU is concerned with what they define as foundations of conservatism, issues such as personal liberty or freedom, foreign policy, and traditional values.[2]


ACU publishes Battleline, an online e-magazine every few weeks on issues that are important to the conservative movement.

Congressional Ratings[edit]

ACU annually rates politicians according to how they vote on key issues, providing a numerical indicator of how much the lawmakers agreed with conservative ideals. They use this rating system as a point of accountability for politicians, comparing their political rhetoric to their voting records to assess their conservativeness.[3][not in citation given] Politicians are given a percentile rating, anyone with a rating of over 80% is considered to be an "ACU Conservative".[4] These scores are often used in political science research, in news stories and in election campaigns.

Conservative Political Action Conference[edit]

ACU's most well-known event is the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which according to their press releases is put on by the ACUF, a foundation within the group. CPAC has an annual attendance of thousands. Speakers regularly include sitting and former presidents and other famous conservatives. In 2009 the most viewed speaker was Rush Limbaugh, who spoke last, and whose speech was covered live on multiple cable news networks and C-SPAN.


Founded in December 1964 by author and commentator William F Buckley Jr, the ACU was established after the defeat of Barry Goldwater.[5] By 1974, ACU had roughly 70,000 members.[6]

David A. Keene was Chairman from 1984 until 2011, succeeded by Al Cardenas.

Diana Hubbard Carr, ACU's former administrative director and ex-wife of David Keene, pleaded guilty in June 2011 to embezzling between $120,000 and $400,000 from 2006 to 2009, during her time as bookkeeper for the group.[7][8]

FedEx controversy[edit]

In a letter dated June 30, 2009, ACU offered FedEx the option of paying as much as $3.4 million for e-mail and other services for "an aggressive grass-roots campaign" to stop a legislative provision being considered by the U.S. Senate.[9] The letter said the ACU's campaign could include "Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s Board of Directors."[9]

On July 15, Keene and leaders of five other conservative organizations issued a letter saying that FedEx was mischaracterizing the legislative situation and was unfairly trying to tap into public resentment against federal bailouts to attack its competition.[10] The letter included, at its top, logos from ACU and the other organizations.[11] Whitfield said on July 16 that Keene had endorsed the second letter as an individual, even though the letter bore the logo of ACU.[12] On July 17, ACU issued a press release saying that permission to use the logo had not been given by ACU, and that the ACU continued to stand with the policy supported by FedEx.[13]


ACU spent $137,000 on lobbying between the years 2004 and 2008.[14]


  1. ^ "American Conservative Union | Who We Are". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  2. ^ "American Conservative Union | Foundations of Conservatism". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  3. ^ "American Conservative Union | What We Do". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  4. ^ "Stewart Named Top Conservative By American Conservative Union" (Press release). Congressman Chris Stewart. April 3, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ "About Us". The American Conservative Union. The American Conservative Union. 2015. 
  6. ^ "Conservatives Worry About Watergate". The Argus-Press. 1974-01-26. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  7. ^, ABC 7 News, June 6, 2011
  8. ^ Former Manager At The American Conservative Union Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement, June 7, 2011
  9. ^ a b "Letter, June 30, 2009, from ACU Executive Vice President Dennis Whitfield to Rick Rogers, FedEx". The Politico. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  10. ^ Andy Barr (July 16, 2009). "Conservatives deliver FedEx smackdown". The Politico. 
  11. ^ "Letter to Frederick W. Smith, President, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corp.". The Politico. July 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  12. ^ Mike Allen (July 17, 2009). "Exclusive: Conservative group offers to sell endorsement for $2M". The Politico. 
  13. ^ "Press release: Statement from ACU regarding false headline by Washington publication POLITICO". American Conservative Union. July 17, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  14. ^ Center for Responsive Politics

External links[edit]