American Action Forum



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $5,337,041
Expenses: $4,863,097
Assets: $1,503,896



Right-of-center issue advocacy




Douglas Holtz-Eakin

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The American Action Forum (AAF) is a right-of-center think tank that promotes Republican-aligned public policy priorities. The organization was founded in 2009 and is affiliated with the American Action Network, an organization that runs ads supportive of Republican congressional candidates. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist who held several senior roles in the George W. Bush White House and served as director of the Congressional Budget Office, heads AAF.

The organization publishes research critical of Democratic and liberal policies such as the Green New Deal and has several former Republican politicians on its Board of Directors including former U.S. Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mel Martinez (R-FL). 1


In 2009, Republican strategists and former elected officials founded American Action Network and American Action Forum; it began operations in early 2010 during the Obama administration when Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress by wide margins. The founding of the organization was compared to that of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-aligned group that similarly was founded by Democratic strategist John Podesta during the George W. Bush administration. At the time of their founding, the American Action Forum and American Action Network was described as a think tank that would push back on President Obama’s agenda and promote Republican congressional candidates ahead of the 2010 midterm elections. 2

Also like the rival Center for American Progress, the organization was formed as two separate entities with the charitable arm American Action Forum providing policy research and analysis and the lobbying and electoral advocacy arm American Action Network focusing on running ads promoting Republican congressional candidates. 3


The organization’s founding board members included former Mississippi Governor and Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. 4 Current board members include former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), former United States Ambassador to the European Union Boyden Gray, and former Maine Governor John McKernan (R). 5

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the president of American Action Forum. Holtz-Eakin was the 6th director of Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan office,  from 2003 to 2005. Holtz-Eakin was also the director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and held the Paul A. Volcker Chair in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he worked as the director of domestic and economic policy for then-U.S. Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign. 6


While its sister organization the American Action Network makes independent expenditures on behalf of Republican candidates, the American Action Forum focuses on publishing policy opinions and research promoting center-right positions on issues including the Affordable Care Act, minimum wage, and immigration. 7

In 2019, the American Action Forum published a report critical of the Green New Deal championed by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), estimating that the proposal would cost between $53 trillion and $91 trillion over ten years. 8


  1. “About.” American Action Forum. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  2. Calmes, Jackie. “G.O.P. Group to Promote Conservative Ideas.” New York Times. February 3, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  3. Calmes, Jackie. “G.O.P. Group to Promote Conservative Ideas.” New York Times. February 3, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  4. Calmes, Jackie. “G.O.P. Group to Promote Conservative Ideas.” New York Times. February 3, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  5. “About.” American Action Forum. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  6. “Douglas Holtz-Eakin.” Immigration Forum. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  7. Stevens, Madeleine. “American Action Network/American Action Forum.” February 26, 2014. Accessed January 23, 2020.
  8. Natter, Ari. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Could Cost $93 Trillion, Group Says.” Bloomberg. February 25, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Boyden Gray
    Officer/Board Member
  2. Michael Chertoff
    Officer/Board Member
  3. Billy Pitts
    Officer/Board Member
  4. John R. McKernan
    Officer/Board Member
  5. Lauren Maddox
    Officer/Board Member
  6. Bobbie Kilberg
    Officer/Board Member
  7. Wendy Grubbs
    Officer/Board Member
  8. James Barkdale
    Officer/Board Member
  9. Norm Coleman
    Board Member
  10. Fred Malek
    Officer/Board Member
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2010

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $5,337,041 $4,863,097 $1,503,896 $282,558 N $5,312,269 $21,176 $3,596 $475,129 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $4,201,402 $5,351,985 $1,089,424 $342,030 N $4,176,619 $20,543 $4,240 $473,002
    2015 Jun Form 990 $5,667,897 $5,145,811 $2,611,825 $713,848 N $5,477,016 $224,859 $4,965 $460,017 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $3,762,581 $4,878,999 $1,586,887 $210,996 N $3,758,212 $0 $1,615 $447,818 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $5,351,609 $4,339,494 $2,838,770 $346,461 N $5,351,609 $0 $0 $431,204 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $4,883,271 $5,319,943 $2,011,241 $531,047 N $4,883,271 $0 $0 $360,677 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $4,223,390 $2,436,276 $2,504,891 $588,024 N $4,223,390 $0 $0 $381,880 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Action Forum

    WASHINGTON, DC 20006-4604