Beginning on Thursday, March 14, the American Conservative Union will hold its 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for three days in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by ACU, CPAC brings together all the movers and shakers in the conservative movement to lay out their vision for the country, actions needed to implement that vision, and hear from current and potential national leaders.
As a result, the ACU undoubtedly plays a major role in conservative politics. To maintain that role takes money. Where that money comes from though is largely unknown and difficult to track.
According to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission for 2011-2012, individual donations totaled $136,243. Of that, only $42,461 was itemized from 46 donors. However in 2012 alone, total contributions totaled over $1.9 million. Since contributions from groups or corporations are not disclosed, where did the remaining $1.8 million come from?
There are 33 directors on the ACU Board of Directors. Glancing over the list, an answer to that question starts to develop from looking at the organizations those directors represent.
- The Heritage Foundation
- National Rifle Association
- Quantum Communications
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
- New York State Conservative Party
- Fiorina and Associates
- The Heartland Institute
- American Enterprise Institute
- The Asa Hutchinson Law Group
- Washington State Republican Party
There can be no question that these organizations could provide sizable donations. In addition to the other 22 directors on the leadership committee, donations could also come from some of the 304 conservative Super PACs or 225 Leadership PACs, candidates’ campaign funds, and other conservative groups.
Founded in 1964, the ACU is the largest and oldest grassroots conservative organization. Thorough its foundation, the ACU provides education and information about conservatism. The ACU PAC provides funding for conservative candidates, and their rating of national and state legislators provides guidance on how well current lawmakers are meeting the conservative agenda.
Next to the Presidential Nominating Convention, CPAC is probably the most important event for the GOP. It provides focus and participants leave energized for the battles that lay ahead. It would be nice to know who’s paying the bills.