Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity (AFP)

 Background

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a conservative think-tank established in Washington, D.C. in 2003 to replace the Citizens for a Sound Economy.

AFP is the sister organization to FreedomWorks, an organization that formed in 2004 when Citizens for a Sound Economy merged with the think tank Empower America. Both the Citizens for a Sound Economy and Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation were created by the Koch brothers.

AFP describes itself as a grassroots organization that is committed to engaging “citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels.” It  educates citizens about economic policy and attempts to mobilize those citizens to become advocates in the public policy process. AFP has state chapters in twenty three states. [1]

David Koch, who has been a key figure in funded think-tanks and organizations distorting climate change science, is listed as the chairman of the AFP Foundation, and as a founder of Americans for Prosperity. [2]

Stance on Climate Change

AFP's official statement on Energy & Environment is as follows:

“Abundant, affordable energy is one of the key drivers of prosperity. We must unleash American energy resources by removing regulatory barriers and keeping energy taxes low.

“Environmental quality improves with economic growth and prosperity, so an overriding goal of environmental policy must be to avoid placing an undue burden on employers and entrepreneurs.”

 Funding

AFP is a non-profit organization that does not to disclose its donors. However, the Media Transparency project shows from 2003-2006, Americans for Prosperity received $1,181,000 from conservative foundations. $1 million of that funding was given by the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation—one of the Koch Family Foundations.

Media Transparency summarize AFP's funding as follows:

The AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, behind the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation. According to Greenpeace, AFP received $5,610,781 from Koch foundations between 2005 and 2009. [3]

Before 2003, when the AFP was still named the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, it received $18,460,912 in funding. 84% of that funding came from the Koch Family Foundations ($12,906,712) and the Scaife Family Foundations ($2,510,000).

Koch Family Foundations is funded by Koch Industries. According to Forbes, Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company and the largest privately owned energy company in the United States. 

According to ExxonSecrets, between the years 1998-2001, Citizens for A Sound Economy and Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation received $380,250 from ExxonMobil. [4]

Key People

AFP's full staff list is available available here. The following lists key individuals:

National Staff

 Directors

  • Art Pope — President and vice-chairman of the board of directors for Variety Wholesalers Inc.
  • James C. Miller
  • James E. Stephenson — President and Chief Executive Officer of Yancey Bros. Co.
  • Frayda Levin — Also co-founded the NJ Chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

Source: [5]

Board of Directors (AFP Foundation)

  • David Koch — Chairman. Executive vice president and member of the board of directors for Koch Industries, Inc.
  • Art Pope — Vice-Chairman. President and vice-chairman of the board of directors for Variety Wholesalers Inc.
  • Richard Fink — Director. Executive vice president and member of the board of directors of Koch Industries, Inc.
  • Debra Humphreys — Director.
  • Walter Williams — Director. Professor of Economics at George Mason University.

Source:  [2]

 Actions

June, 2011

AFP took their “Running on Empty” campaign tour to Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio with the purpose to “teach” Americans about how AFP believes President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.

AFP claims that Obama is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.

March, 2011

Americans for Prosperity sent memos to U.S. senators to support an attack on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lawful regulation of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act. [6]

March 22, 2010

AFP’s 2010 Regulation Reality Tour, featuring Smart cars and “carbon cops” at stops across the country, was launched to obstruct U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of major greenhouse gas emitters and undermine the seriousness of climate change. [12]

Citizens observing the tour were given fake citations for mowing their lawns or filling gas tanks, falsely alleging that the EPA would regulate individual consumers. [7]

December 2, 2010

At the 2010 international climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, AFP had a live broadcast of its Hot Air Tour featuring Senate climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK) and conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

September, 2010

AFP California supported Proposition 23, the ballot attack on state climate legislation that was heavily financed by Koch Industries and other oil companies.

AFP's California director has said that the Prop 23 is the group's “top priority.” [8]

April, 2009

AFP led attacks on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a climate pollution reduction program by pressuring state lawmakers to repeal from the program despite its economic successes. [9]

February 2009

Americans for Prosperity started a nation-wide campaign to stop the senate and congress from passing President Obama’s $827 Million Stimulus Plan. The key to AFP’s campaign was a petition which stated:

Congress should not enact an expensive spending bill under the pretense of stimulus or recovery. We cannot spend our way to prosperity, and such an expansion of the federal government will put a crushing burden on taxpayers in the long-term.”

The “No Stimulus” campaign did not prevent the bill from passing, although the campaign were lauded by Senator James Inhofe for bringing awareness to the public. [10]

April 2008

AFP embarked on a nation wide campaign against global warming titled the “Hot Air Tour.” AFP traveled in a hot air balloon to forty cities in the United States and held events in those cities. 

The tour carried the slogan, “Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom.”

During the Hot Air Tour, AFP president Tim Phillips said that AFP's purpose was to prevent cap-and-trade and other climate change legislation from being passed in government. He declared if any cap and trade legislation were passed it would create a massive tax burden on American citizens, kill the economy, and harmfully infringe on personal freedoms. 

In a public address, Tim Phillips stated there would be a $1.2 Trillion tax increase if a cap-and-trade bill was passed and that 1.2-1.8 million jobs would be lost with cap-and-trade legislation. He cited the “American Capital Formation Foundation” as his source. While the American Capital Formation Foundation does not in fact exist, the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) does, and it has consistently lobbied in Washington against green initiatives, especially the Kyoto protocol, claiming these actions would have severe effects on the national economy.

On its website, the ACCF calls itself “one of the most influential organizations operating behind the scenes in the Washington policymaking arena.” According to ExxonSecrets, between 1998-2006, the American Council for Capital Formation received $1,674,523 from ExxonMobil. The group has also received funding from Koch foundations. [11]

Related Organizations

On its website (as of December, 2011), AFP describes its “featured partners” as being the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change, the Internet Freedom Coalition and Townhall.com.

From 2003-2008, Americans for Prosperity was formally affiliated with the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF). 

A 2003 press release explained the relationship: “while the two organizations will share leadership and senior staff and be co-located in IWF’s new suite of offices in Washington, D.C., each will be a separate organization with its own board of directors.” According to the IWF, as of July 2005, the “IWF and AFP have had no formal relationship.” 

The president of the Independent Women’s Forum, Nancy Pfotenahuer, also acted as the president of Americans for Prosperity, but that arrangement ended in July 2005, and Pfotenhauer is now solely the president of IWF and not an employee of AFP.

AFP is also a member of Internet Freedom Coalition whose members include Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the Independent Women's Forum, and the Reason Foundation.

 Resources

  1. About Americans for Prosperity,” AFP. Accessed December 21, 2011.

  2. Board of Directors,” Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Accessed December 21, 2011.

  3. Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP),” Greenpeace. Accessed December 21, 2011.

  4. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Citizens for A Sound Economy and CSE Educational Foundation.

  5. Americans for Prosperity Directors,” AFP. Accessed December 21, 2011.

  6. Ben Geman. “Coal group presses senators on looming vote to kill EPA climate rules,” E2 Wire, March 25, 2011.

  7. Carbon Cops,” Regulation Reality Tour.

  8. The Koch brothers' dirty money in California,” Polluterwatch, September 23, 2010.

  9. David Anderson. “Koch-funded group mounts cut-and-paste attack on regional climate initiatives,” Grist, March 16, 2011.

  10. Senator James Inhofe speaks at AFP NoStimulus Rally,” YouTube Video. Uploaded by AforP, February 6, 2009.

  11. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research, ACCF.

  12. 'Regulation Reality Tour' Peddles Polluter Lies, Endangering American Prosperity,” Thinkprogress, March 20, 2010.

  13. Koch Industries: Stil Fuelling Climate Denial 2011 Update,” Greenpeace report.

  14. Degrading the American Dream: inside Koch’s Americans for Prosperity convention,” Greenpeace, November 10, 2011.

  15. Americans for Prosperity,” FactCheck.org, August 9, 2010.

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