Non-profit

American Bridge 21st Century Foundation

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Formation:

2010

Founder:

David Brock

President:

Pat Dennis

Co-Chairs:

Steve Bullock

Cecile Richards

Tom Perez

PAC Affiliate:

American Bridge 21st Century (AB PAC)

EIN:

27-5278038

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $9,934,660

Expenses: $16,108,769

Assets: $2,285,446

Latest 990 Form:

2021 990 Tax Form

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

For more information, see American Bridge 21st Century (Super PAC)

American Bridge 21st Century Foundation is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of American Bridge 21st Century, a PAC created by Democratic Party operative David Brock to attack Republican politicians.

American Bridge 21st Century Foundation is a major donor to its PAC counterpart, donating roughly $5.9 million in 2017-2018 to it (as of October 2018).1 According to its 2021 990 form, the foundation donated roughly $100,000 to its PAC counterpart in 2021. 2

Early Years

From its inception, David Brock intended American Bridge to play a large role and sought the money to back up his plan. In a New York Times article about the American Bridge’s founding, Brock boasted of his ability to raise substantial amounts of money from wealthy donors. Said Brock, “My donor base already constitutes the major individual players who have historically given hundreds of millions of dollars to these types of efforts.”3

American Bridge’s early supporters included Rob McKay, chair of the Democracy Alliance, a fellow liberal organization, businessman Robert Dyson and television producer Marcia L. Carsey.4 Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, of Kennedy family fame and a former lieutenant governor in Maryland, served as the group’s first chair.5

Background

American Bridge advocated for the development of a series of databases, capturing political flubs and faux pas by Republican politicians on video. The group hired trackers to follow Republican candidates at the federal level and record their every word, handshake and everything in between. During the 2012 election cycle, American Bridge deployed trackers to 33 states.6 The group is crediting with finding the “legitimate rape” comments made by Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, which led to a media maelstrom. Akin went on to lose the contest.

“Rising Stars”

American Bridge runs its “Rising Stars” program, which tracks Republican politicians that could one day seek higher office. The group’s trackers follow state- or local-level politicians and catalogue their public statements. As Mackler described it, “When somebody who ran for Congress in 2012 runs for president in 2028, we’re going to have an archive full of material.”7

Other Projects

Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

In July 2018, American Bridge announced its plan to work against the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through personal vetting. It claimed to looking into researching areas including FOIA requests, research through library collections and special collections, real property, corporate and nonprofit affiliations, national personal civil and criminal cases, comprehensive audio video search, and an anonymous tip line. 8 On October 6, 2018, the Senate voted in favor of confirming Brett Kavanaugh 50-48-1 following the confirmation hearings, where he was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice that same day. 9

Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 21, 2020, American Bridge began a $50 million effort to increase its budget, from nearly $30 million to over $80 million, in order to expand efforts to “weaken” President Donald Trump during the 2020 elections. 10 In addition to this planned “massive push,” American Bridge ran advertisements in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania attacking President Donald Trump’s alleged incompetence in handling the coronavirus pandemic and “downplaying the crisis.” 11 “Our job is to hold Donald Trump accountable, and we have no plans to let up, particularly with a focus on economic issues as we’ve done to date. But as this crisis unfolds and the country experiences the consequences of his incompetence, we’re not going to give him a pass for bungling the government’s response to this pandemic,” said American Bridge president Bradley Beychok. 12

Reaction to Roe v. Wade Overturning

On June 8, 2023, American Bridge 21st Century co-chair Cecile Richards gave an interview with publication The American Independent to discuss the U.S Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June the previous year and her reaction to it. She claimed that, “…after Kansas, and going through the midterm elections, and certainly continuing on into Wisconsin, the voters have been very clear. They do not want to live in a country where the government is making decisions about pregnancy.” 13 She also claimed that the Democrat Party understands that the issue of abortion access, “…is a question about personal freedoms for everyone, everyone. Of course, it’s about abortion, but that was just the first attack.” 14 In addition she criticized the Republican Party for,”[wanting] to get into our personal lives. They want to play God about our decisions and our families…All they want to do is wage a culture war on America. I believe that’s where the lines are drawn.” 15

Previous Election Cycles

2016 Elections

During the 2016 election cycle, American Bridge enjoyed a $17 million budget and employed “ some eighty-plus staffers.”16

2017 Elections

American Bridge had deployed its trackers for Senate candidates in at least 10 states and the group planned to ramp up its efforts.17 The group plans to actively work U.S. Senate races in Montana, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, West Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia.18

The group also planned tracking efforts in the 2017 New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, including similar efforts in states like Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Illinois.19 There the group will target Republican Govs. Scott Walker, Charlie Baker and Bruce Rauner, respectively.20

2018 Midterm Elections

During the 2018 midterm elections, American Bridge and Brock noted their intent to apply strong pressure against Republican candidates within both local and national elections. Brock said during the early planning stages of the 2018 midterm election cycle that “American Bridge will make running as a Republican candidate in the next four years painful. We will not only damage Trump, but also the candidates who enable and support him.”21

In 2017 and 2018, American Bridge tracked Republican U.S. Senate candidates Ohio’s Josh Mandel, Nevada’s Dean Heller and Arizona’s Jeff Flake.22 The group saw the state of Arizona, where Flake had finished his first term, as a significant pick-up opportunity for Democrats. 23

American Bridge noted it would become active in participating within state legislative races after the 2018 midterm elections as the country approaches redistricting efforts, which they claimed would shift political power. The group commented it would activate in, “states where a) Democrats are in the minority by a narrow margin in the state legislative chambers, b) redistricting is critical, and c) our progressive partners are most engaged.”24

2024 Election Cycle Activism

“Republicans We’re Watching”

As of 2023, the American Bridge 21st Century Website contains a sub-section titled, “Republican’s We’re Watching” with a listing of Republicans from local, state-level, and national positions from all 50 states while displaying media hits and reactions from the organization on each candidate particularly in response to positions listed Republicans might have on issues including abortion access, gun safety, voting rights, and campaign financing. 25

Trump Research Book

Prior to the 2020 presidential election, American Bridge 21st Century launched an online research hub titled, “Trump Research Book,” that allows editors to add or review information added regarding President Trump’s time in office as well as events prior to and following his administration. The organization claims that the page is, “organized into multiple reports designed to help tell the full story about Trump’s failed presidency and make the case against his 2024 campaign.” 26 27 The group also has a “DeSantis Research Book” online hub meant to compile information about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and argue against his 2024 presidential run with the home site claiming that he is, “…a failed governor. He’s a threat to Social Security and Medicare. He’s a corrupt and authoritarian career politician, and he’s a policy extremist who’s out of touch with the voters on every issue.” 28 American Bridge 21st Century president Pat Dennis commented on the DeSantis research book by claiming the Florida governor is, “…caught up in culture wars, unfit for office and utterly unprepared for the public pressure that comes with a contentious Republican presidential primary.” 29 Dennis gave a separate interview with the Tampa Bay Times and commented on the DeSantis research hub being a way for the organization to, “be prepared for every scenario so that we can quickly adjust to the GOP darling of the moment and define Republicans early and often…At American Bridge, our candidate is chaos, and whoever emerges from the Republican presidential primary should be bruised and battered.” 30

American Bridge 21st Century: Repro-Files

As of May 2023, the American Bridge 21st Century has an online research forum called the “Repro Files” which it claims is meant to act as a hub of collecting information on Republican candidates running in state and local elections that it claims have a track record of taking, “…positions to end abortion access and restrict reproductive rights and health care options.” 31 The site also has a sub-section focusing on Republican presidential candidates running in 2024 and their stances on abortion and reproductive health. The site also claims that it is, “a resource for allies in the fight to protect abortion access and reproductive health care by exposing anti-choice legislators in order to hold them accountable at the ballot box.” 32

Criticism

Mike Stark Assault (2018)

Also see Mike Stark

On October 16, 2018, American Bridge reporter Mike Stark was arrested after he was accused of “grabbing and yanking” the arm of the female campaign manager for Nevada Republican gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt. According to his accuser, Stark attempted to enter a room in the East Las Vegas Community Center in order to film and question Laxalt when he “physically pushed his body on [her] multiple times” and twisted her arm aggressively. Stark was charged by the Las Vegas Police Department with battery and fired by American Bridge shortly thereafter.33 34

Criticism of Trump Administration

In 2019, American Bridge 21st Century signed a letter condemning the immigration policy of the Trump Administration and urging American CEOs not to employ anyone involved with the policy. It accused these officials of being directly guilty for physical abuse, sexual assault, and even the death of illegal immigrant children. The letter was titled “An Open Letter to America’s CEOs” and was dated April 6, 2019. 35

Patriots Foundation Lawsuit

In April 2020, conservative nonprofit Patriots Foundation issued a complaint arguing that was no legal separation between the American Bridge Foundation and the American Bridge PAC with shared staff, office space, and equipment used. However, the American Bridge Foundation has stated that “the two entities have entered into a cost-sharing agreement to allocate shared overhead costs so that neither entity is financially supporting the activities of the other.” 36 In other statements, American Bridge claimed that neither organization has “a formal agreement relating to the allocation of expenses between the two entities” and “allocations were made based on management and budget estimates.” 37

On August 13, 2020, conservative nonprofit Patriots Foundation issued a lawsuit against the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC) for failing to act on a previously-issued complaint in April against political operative David Brock and four of his organizations. 38 The complaint read that David Brock had used nonprofits Correct the Record as well as Media Maters, American Bridge 21st Century, and American Bridge 21st Century Foundation to illegally coordinate with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. 39 According to a statement released by Patriot’s Foundation, “American Bridge 21st Century PAC claimed that it was independent of the Clinton campaign so that it could make independent expenditures […] American Bridge is run by the same people who run Media Matters and Correct the Record, however, which we know coordinated with the Clinton campaign.” 40

2023 Anti-Trump Campaign

In June 2023, American Bridge 21st Centry launched a new campaign, titled, “This F*cking Guy,” that it claimed would remind, “the public and reporters alike of the daily chaos that Trump created when he was president…” 41 American Bridge 21st Century Pat Dennis commented on the campaign, claiming that its, “…easy to forget the unnecessary drama that Donald Trump and his clown car of shady associates created on a regular basis because we’ve been experiencing the benefits of President Biden’s responsible leadership. American Bridge is going to take charge in reminding everyone just how annoying and anxiety-raising the Trump years were as voters head to the ballot box next November.” 42

In its initial complaint issued in April 2020, Patriots Foundation argued there is no legal separation between the American Bridge Foundation and the American Bridge PAC with shared staff, office space, and equipment used. However, the American Bridge Foundation has stated that “the two entities have entered into a cost-sharing agreement to allocate shared overhead costs so that neither entity is financially supporting the activities of the other.” 43 In other statements, American Bridge claimed that neither organization has “a formal agreement relating to the allocation of expenses between the two entities” and “allocations were made based on management and budget estimates.” 44

People

Leadership

In December 2022, it was announced that Pat Dennis, who previously worked as American Bridge 21st Century ‘s Vice President of Research, would take the position as president of the organization. Prior to joining American Bridge in 2014, he worked within several state and federal campaigns including work as Research Director for the Ohio Democratic Party as well as the Deputy Research Director for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 Senate race. 45

Board of Directors

According to the 2021 990 form for American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, the board’s co-chairs include activist Cecile Richards, former governor of Montana Steve Bullock, and former DNC chairman Tom Perez. The treasurer is David Bennhaum, and its secretary is Ted Trimpa. 46

Financials

According to its 2021 990 form, American Bridge 21st Century Foundation had a revenue of $9,934,660, expenses of $16,108,769, and assets of $2,285,446. 47 That same year it donated roughly $100,000 to its sister Super PAC American Bridge Foundation 21st Century (or AB PAC). Other grants were given to journalism advocacy group American Independent Foundation ($25,000), charity organization VoteRiders ($25,000), and activist group 1K Women Strong Inc. ($50,000). 48

References

  1. “American Bridge 21st Century Foundation.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?sort=A&cmte=C00492140&cycle=2018&Page=2
  2. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. 2021. Schedule I, Part II.
  3. Luo, Michael. “Effort for Liberal Balance to G.O.P. Groups Begins.” The New York Times. November 22, 2010. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/us/politics/23money.html.
  4. Luo, Michael. “Effort for Liberal Balance to G.O.P. Groups Begins.” The New York Times. November 22, 2010. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/us/politics/23money.html.
  5. Luo, Michael. “Effort for Liberal Balance to G.O.P. Groups Begins.” The New York Times. November 22, 2010. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/us/politics/23money.html.
  6. Goldberg, Michelle. “How David Brock Built an Empire to Put Hillary in the White House.” The Nation. June 29, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/how-david-brock-built-empire-put-hillary-white-house/.
  7. Goldberg, Michelle. “How David Brock Built an Empire to Put Hillary in the White House.” The Nation. June 29, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/how-david-brock-built-empire-put-hillary-white-house/
  8. “American Bridge SCOTUS Research, Tracking, and Communications Plan.” Politico. Accessed July 11, 2018. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000164-838b-d782-af64-f39fcc420001.
  9. “Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and votes.” Ballotpedia, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://ballotpedia.org/Brett_Kavanaugh_confirmation_hearings_and_votes
  10. Schoffstal, Joe. “David Brock Launches $50 Million Effort to ‘Weaken’ Trump in 2020.” The Free Beacon. March 21, 2020. https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-launches-50-million-effort-to-weaken-trump-in-2020/
  11. Stanley-Becker, Isaac. “Democratic Groups to Spend Millions Hitting Trump over Coronavirus Response.” The Washington Post. WP Company, March 17, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democratic-groups-to-spend-millions-hitting-trump-over-coronavirus-response/2020/03/17/5f9fadba-686c-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html.
  12. Stanley-Becker, Isaac. “Democratic Groups to Spend Millions Hitting Trump over Coronavirus Response.” The Washington Post. WP Company, March 17, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democratic-groups-to-spend-millions-hitting-trump-over-coronavirus-response/2020/03/17/5f9fadba-686c-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html.
  13. Sager, Rebekah. “Organizer Cecile Richards believes abortion ‘was just the first attack’.” The American Independent, June 8, 2023. https://americanindependent.com/cecile-richards-abortion-just-the-first-attack/
  14. Goldberg, Michelle. “How David Brock Built an Empire to Put Hillary in the White House.” The Nation. June 29, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/how-david-brock-built-empire-put-hillary-white-house/.
  15. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  16. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  17. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  18. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  19. Markay, Lachlan. “David Brock’s Super PAC Lays Out Ambitious 2018 Plans.” Washington Free Beacon. January 21, 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-super-pac-2018-plans/.
  20. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  21. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  22. “American Bridge Midterms 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. January 2017. Accessed April 15, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bridge-midterms-1.pdf.
  23. “Republicans We’re Watching.” American Bridge 21st Century, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://www.americanbridgepac.org/targets/#article
  24. “THIS F*CKING GUY: American Bridge’s Latest Campaign to Hold Donald Trump Accountable.” American Bridge 21st Century, June 16, 2023. https://www.americanbridgepac.org/this-fcking-guy-american-bridges-latest-campaign-to-hold-donald-trump-accountable/
  25. “Trump Research Book.” Trump Research Book, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://trumpresearchbook.com/
  26. “DESANTIS RESEARCH BOOK.” DeSantis Research Book, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://desantisresearchbook.com/
  27. McCammond, Alexi. “Dems dump 500 pages of DeSantis opposition research.” Axios, April 3, 2023. https://www.axios.com/2023/04/03/democrats-2024-ron-desantis-research
  28. Mahoney, Emily L.. “Democratic group publishes 500-page DeSantis opposition research file.” Tampa Bay Times, April 6, 2023. https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2023/04/05/ron-desantis-opposition-research-democrats-donald-trump-2024-american-bridge/
  29. “American Bridge 21st Century: Repro Files.” Repro Files, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://repro-files.com/
  30. “American Bridge 21st Century: Repro Files.” Repro Files, Accessed June 20, 2023. https://repro-files.com/
  31. Watkins, Eli; Merica, Dan. “Liberal group staffer arrested after allegedly forcefully grabbing GOP campaign manager.” CNN. October 17, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/17/politics/mike-stark-kristin-davison-nevada/index.html
  32. Singman, Brooke. “Dem operative for Soros-funded group arrested for ‘battery’ against Nevada GOP candidate’s campaign manager.” Fox News. October 17, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dem-operative-for-soros-funded-group-arrested-for
  33. “An Open Letter to America’s CEOs.” Restore Public Trust. April 6, 2019. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/Restore-Public-Trust-Open-Letter-Asylum-04.2019.pdf
  34. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  35. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  36. Kerr, Andrew. “Conservative Group Sues FEC For Failing To Act On Allegations Against Media Matters.” The Daily Caller. August 14, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2020/08/14/conservative-group-fec-lawsuit-media-matters-patriots-foundation-david-brock/
  37. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  38. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  39. “THIS F*CKING GUY: American Bridge’s Latest Campaign to Hold Donald Trump Accountable.” American Bridge 21st Century, June 16, 2023. https://www.americanbridgepac.org/this-fcking-guy-american-bridges-latest-campaign-to-hold-donald-trump-accountable/
  40. “THIS F*CKING GUY: American Bridge’s Latest Campaign to Hold Donald Trump Accountable.” American Bridge 21st Century, June 16, 2023. https://www.americanbridgepac.org/this-fcking-guy-american-bridges-latest-campaign-to-hold-donald-trump-accountable/
  41. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  42. Hemingway, Mark. “Did Media Matters shill so hard for Hillary that it broke the law.” The Federalist. August 17, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/17/did-media-matters-shill-so-hard-for-hillary-that-it-broke-the-law/
  43. “Press Release: American Bridge 21st Century Announces Opposition Research Veteran Pat Dennis as Next President.” American Bridge 21st Century, December 19, 2022. https://www.americanbridgepac.org/american-bridge-21st-century-announces-opposition-research-veteran-pat-dennis-as-next-president/
  44. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. 2021. Schedule A, Part VII. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/275278038/202243199349323964/full
  45. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. 2021. Schedule A, Part I, Lines 12, 18 and 20.
  46. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. 2021. Schedule I, Part II.
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American Bridge 21st Century Foundation

455 MASSACHUSETTS AVE NW STE 600
WASHINGTON, DC 20001-2774