Concerned Veterans for America

Concerned Veterans for America is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that played a key role in the Koch brothers’ network during the 2014 election cycle. As noted by Politico, “Concerned Veterans ran ads in the run-up to last year’s [2014] midterm elections attacking vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and then-Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina. The group also put up ads in support of then-Rep. Tom Cotton.”[1] The group also attacked then-Rep. Bruce Braley’s record, using what the Annenberg Public Policy Center called “false and potentially misleading claims.”[2]

Such claims have earned the group a controversial reputation. As longtime military columnist Tom Philpott wrote in Stars and Stripes,

“In my 37 years covering veterans’ issues, I have never seen veteran issues used more cynically or politicized more thoroughly than during the past several years.  At times the intent seems to be to shake trust in government generally rather than to address veterans’ needs. In the thick of this is Concerned Veterans for America, posing as a vet advocacy group and being rewarded for it.  CVA press releases usually are partisan attacks… [But] what should upset vets is the use of select facts about VA and its programs to reinforce fears rather than give reliable information… Though CVA sponsors an occasional informative forum in Washington D.C., it produces no careful analyses of what ails VA.  The goal seems to be to attack, relentlessly, while a Democrat holds the White House.”[3]

CVA files its tax returns with the IRS under the name “Vets for Economic Freedom Trust.”[4] ProPublica notes that it is an example of Koch-backed groups that use complicated tax and legal frameworks to decrease transparency. Per the organization, “Four other leading nonprofit experts and three conservative operatives with knowledge of the Koch network said the most likely reason that the Kochs and their inner circle are using this arrangement was to exert control over the groups without saying publicly who was in charge. In particular, they said, the Kochs likely wanted to prevent any of the groups that they help fund from going against their wishes.”[5]

In November 2015, CVA spent “at least $100,000” on a digital ad targeting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.[6]

[1]Well-funded vets groups prepare for 2016 battle.” Austin Wright, Politico, 06/25/15

[2]Braley’s VA hearing attendance under attack.” D’Angelo Gore, Eugene Kiely, and Lauren Shapiro, The Annenberg Public Policy Center, 08/01/14

[3]Vets should be wary of CVA pitchforks and torches.” Tom Philpott, Stars and Stripes, 05/23/14

[4]Who controls the Kochs’ political network? ASMI, SLAH and TOHE.” Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica, 03/17/14

[5]Who controls the Kochs’ political network? ASMI, SLAH and TOHE.” Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica, 03/17/14

[6]Clinton targeted in ad from group tied to Koch brothers.” Julie Bykowicz, The Associated Press, 11/06/15