60 Plus Association
The 60 Plus Association is one of the top 15 dark money groups examined by Issue One’s new “Dark Money Illuminated” report that has been spending millions of dollars in our elections since Citizens United without publicly disclosing their donors. Dark money groups frequently operate as attack dogs during campaigns, criticizing candidates from the shadows. Dark money groups also often push the envelope in terms of how much political spending they can engage in without running afoul of rules that prohibit them from existing primarily to influence elections. By masquerading as a trade association or “social welfare” nonprofit, dark money groups avoid the mandatory donor disclosure rules that would come with registering as a political committee whose primary purpose is to influence elections.
Here’s what Issue One’s year-long “Dark Money Illuminated” investigation revealed:
The 60 Plus Association raised
between July 2009 and June 2017.
Issue One identified
donors to this dark money group.
These donors collectively accounted for
of its funding.
Issue One found 13 donors that gave at least $100,000 since July 2009:
American Encore (formerly Center to Protect Patient Rights): $16 million
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce: $16 million
American Future Fund: $4.6 million
TC4 Trust: $4.1 million
Consumer Information Council: $1.9 million
Vote Alabama: $1 million
Free Enterprise America: $840,000
Peoples Alliance for Leadership: $630,000
Mobile Consumers for Choice and Competition (formerly Midwest Consumers for Choice and Competition): $250,000
Arizona Free Enterprise Club: $200,000
Next Century Fund: $140,000
Citizens for a Digital Future: $100,000
Policy and Taxation Group: $100,000
Note: These numbers have been rounded to two significant figures. Click here to see more details about these contributions — and all identified donors to this group — in Issue One’s exclusive database of dark money donors, and click here to learn more about how these contributors were identified.
About the 60 Plus Association
Incorporated in Virginia in August 1990 as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, the 60 Plus Association markets itself as a conservative alternative to AARP. The group’s founder and longtime chairman is Jim Martin, a former journalist who served as the chief of staff to a Republican senator during the 1960s. Martin is also the man who is credited as popularizing the term “death tax” for the tax paid by the wealthiest Americans when they pass their estates onto their heirs. Singer Pat Boone, who rose to fame in the 1950s for his pop and gospel songs, serves as the 60 Plus Association’s national spokesman.
When it applied for tax-exempt status, the 60 Plus Association told the Internal Revenue Service it planned to raise money from unspecified “individuals, corporations and foundations.”
In 2016, the Federal Election Commission levied a $50,000 fine against the 60 Plus Association for failing to disclose that a nonprofit known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights — a group associated with the political network of billionaires Charles and David Koch — was a donor behind some of its political expenditures in 2010. However, according to media reports, the 60 Plus Association only paid one-tenth of this fine — and decided to contest the remaining amount.
In 2014, a liberal watchdog group asked the IRS to determine whether the 60 Plus Association had violated federal law “by intentionally failing to disclose” millions of dollars in spending on political activities in 2010 and 2012. An Issue One review of federal records shows that the 60 Plus Association told the FEC that it spent at least $2.3 million more expressly advocating for the election or defeat of candidates between July 2009 and June 2017 than the group told the IRS it spent on “direct or indirect political campaign activities” during the same period.
- American Action Network
- Americans for Job Security
- Americans for Prosperity
- Americans for Tax Reform
- American Future Fund
- Crossroads GPS
- League of Conservation Voters
- National Association of Realtors
- National Rifle Association
- Patriot Majority USA
- Planned Parenthood Action Fund
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- VoteVets Action Fund