Americans for Prosperity, the tax-exempt conservative political organization created by oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, spent $122 million in 2012 — more than it spent in all previous years combined. While the group’s $33.5 million campaign to defeat President Barack Obama failed, AFP has successfully helped like-minded candidates at the state and local level.
The Center for Public Integrity reported Thursday that from 2004 through 2011, AFP spent a total of $72 million. The group spent $21.7 million of that in 2010, after the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 Citizens United ruling made it easier for tax-exempt organizations to influence elections. But documents filed in Colorado show that number more than quintupled in 2012. The group does not disclose its donors.
While the group’s most visible expenditures in 2012 were unsuccessful — millions spent to defeat Obama and now-Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — much of its other spending was successful. It spent at least $1.5 million to say nice things about Gov. Scott Walker (R) prior to his victory over a recall attempt. AFP and its affiliated organizations also poured about $1 million into Arkansas, where Republicans successfully captured control of the state legislature for the first time since 1874. In Kansas, the group successfully replaced moderate Republicans in the legislature with staunch conservatives.
This year, AFP and its state allies have also focused on local races, including the Douglas County, Colorado school board. Their favored slate retained control, after the AFP Foundation Colorado ran several TV ads telling voters that the current board’s education reform efforts were “working.”