American Future Fund

The American Future Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and a former member of the Koch network. The group was founded in 2007 by Nick Ryan, a Republican political operative from Iowa who more recently chaired a Super PAC supporting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2016 presidential campaign.[1]

The group spent over $2 million in the 2008 election and escalated its political spending over $10 million in 2010.[2][3] In October 2010, campaign watchdogs including Public Citizen and the Center for Media and Democracy filed an FEC complaint asserting that AFF had failed to register as a political committee and file political spending reports, as its political activity would require.[4]

AFF received $68 million in 2012.[5] According to ProPublica, it “got more than 92 percent of that money from Freedom Partners and the Center [to Protect Patient Rights],” both fellow Koch network groups.[6] Both groups told the IRS that they were not spending money on political activities; however, “more than $30 million funneled through these groups ended up paying for political activities.”[7] AFF itself spent over $25 million on political activity that year.[8] The group was criticized for its role in a California “campaign money laundering” scheme and appears to have subsequently lost its relationship with the Koch network.[9]

In 2014, the group ran ads targeting young voters with the issue of cannabis legalization. In its analysis of such ads in North Carolina, the Washington Post noted that AFF had “frequently been used as a pass-through for political money on the right,” suggesting that the ads might be intended to erode Sen. Kay Hagan’s support on the left.[10] Libertarian Sean Haugh, who received the support of the North Carolina ads, said that “While I appreciate the support, I now have a whole new reason to despise Koch brothers & their dark money… The source makes the intent obvious.”[11]

In 2016, AFF aired ads against several rivals of Marco Rubio during the Republican presidential primary and is now spending $1.9 million against Patrick Murphy, his Democratic opponent for the Senate.[12]

[1]Nick Ryan – About Me.” Accessed 10/09/15

[2]American Future Fund – Outside Spending 2008.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 10/09/15

[3]American Future Fund – Outside Spending 2010.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 10/09/15

[4] “Before the Federal Election Commission: Public Citizen et al v. American Future Fund.” 10/15/10

[5]The dark money man: How Sean Noble moved the Kochs’ cash into politics and made millions.” Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica, 02/14/14

[6]The dark money man: How Sean Noble moved the Kochs’ cash into politics and made millions.” Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica, 02/14/14

[7]The dark money man: How Sean Noble moved the Kochs’ cash into politics and made millions.” Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica, 02/14/14

[8]American Future Fund draws nearly all revenues from two Koch-linked groups.” Viveca Novak and Robert Maguire, The Center for Responsive Politics, 12/9/13

[9]Exiled from Koch orbit, American Future Fund turns to GOP establishment for cash.” Robert Maguire, The Center for Responsive Politics, 03/07/16

[10]Conservative group funds pro-weed campaign for North Carolina Libertarian candidate.” Matea Gold, The Washington Post, 10/23/14

[11]Conservative group funds pro-weed campaign for North Carolina Libertarian candidate.” Matea Gold, The Washington Post, 10/23/14

[12] “$1.9M ad campaign slams Murphy.” Kristen Clark, The Tampa Bay Times, 09/02/16