Pro-business powerhouse Americans for Job Security cannot, by federal law, make politics its primary purpose.
But as contentious federal elections and state-level ballot initiatives raged during 2012, the nonprofit organization’s income spiked at least tenfold compared to 2011, a non-election year, records show.
The cash windfall fueled tens of millions of dollars of overtly political spending, much of it in the form of relentless advertisements skewering President Barack Obama.
New IRS Form 990 filings show Americans for Job Security raised $2.5 million during fiscal year 2011 and carried just $727,000 in reserve through October 2011. IRS records for 2012 are not available and likely won’t be until the year’s end.
But Federal Election Commission filings show in 2012 the group spent $15.2 million to attack Obama and another $650,000 to oppose Eric Hovde, a U.S. Senate candidate in Wisconsin, during a Republican primary.
The organization, which was founded and run by a Republican political operative, also spent $11 million to help support passage of an anti-union California ballot proposition, the state’s campaign finance regulators revealed.
Unlike super PACs, which must disclose their donors, Americans for Job Security is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt trade organization that keeps its funders secret, even when it’s engaging in the same kind of overt candidate bashing that super PACs of all political stripes so often do.
Its ties to Republican politicians and political operatives are well documented.
In 2010, another election year, the group also saw a big bump in fundraising, showing $12.4 million, IRS filings indicate.