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American Conservative Union

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American Conservative Union

American Conservative Union
Founded 1964

1331 H Street NW

Washington, DC 20005
Website American Conservative Union

The American Conservative Union (ACU) is an conservative policies, and is the oldest such conservative lobbying organization in the country.


The ACU is divided into three entities that share the same staff but maintain separate budgets:

  • The American Conservative Union is a Conservative Political Action Conference.
  • The American Conservative Union Political Action Committee is a PAC that formally endorses and funds conservative candidates for federal office.


ACU annual ranks politicians according to how they vote on key issues, providing a numerical indicator of how much the lawmakers agreed with conservative ideals. These scores are often used in political science research, in news stories and in election campaigns.

ACU publishes Battleline, an online e-magazine every few weeks on issues that are important to the conservative movement.

ACU's most well-known event is the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which according to their press releases is put on by the ACUF, a foundation within the group. CPAC has an annual attendance of thousands. Speakers regularly include sitting and former presidents and other famous conservatives. In 2009 the most viewed speaker was Rush Limbaugh, who spoke last, and whose speech was covered live on multiple cable news networks and C-SPAN.


Founded in December 1964 by author and commentator William F Buckley Jr, the ACU was established after the defeat of Barry Goldwater.[1] By 1974, ACU had roughly 70,000 members.[2]

David A. Keene was Chairman from 1984 until 2011, succeeded by Al Cardenas.

David Michael Keene, Keene's son, was sentenced in 2003 to ten years for attempted murder in a 2002 road-rage incident. He was ACU's director of online communications at the time. Diana Hubbard Carr, the ACU's former administrative director and ex-wife of David Keene, pleaded guilty in June 2011 to embezzling between $120,000 and $400,000 from 2006 to 2009, during her time as bookkeeper for the group.[3][4]

FedEx controversy

In a letter dated June 30, 2009, ACU offered FedEx the option of paying as much as $3.4 million for e-mail and other services for "an aggressive grass-roots campaign" to stop a legislative provision being considered by the U.S. Senate.[5] The letter said the ACU's campaign could include "Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s Board of Directors."[5]

On July 15, Keene and leaders of five other conservative organizations issued a letter saying that FedEx was mischaracterizing the legislative situation and was unfairly trying to tap into public resentment against federal bailouts to attack its competition.[6] The letter included, at its top, logos from ACU and the other organizations.[7] Whitfield said on July 16 that Keene had endorsed the second letter as an individual, even though the letter bore the logo of ACU.[8] On July 17, ACU issued a press release saying that permission to use the logo had not been given by ACU, and that the ACU continued to stand with the policy supported by FedEx.[9]


ACU spent $137,000 on lobbying between the years 2004 and 2008.[10]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Conservatives Worry About Watergate". The Argus-Press. 1974-01-26. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  3. ^, ABC 7 News, June 6, 2011
  4. ^ Former Manager At The American Conservative Union Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement, June 7, 2011
  5. ^ a b "Letter, June 30, 2009, from ACU Executive Vice President Dennis Whitfield to Rick Rogers, FedEx".  
  6. ^ Andy Barr (July 16, 2009). "Conservatives deliver FedEx smackdown". The Politico. 
  7. ^ "Letter to Frederick W. Smith, President, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corp.".  
  8. ^ Mike Allen (July 17, 2009). "Exclusive: Conservative group offers to sell endorsement for $2M". The Politico. 
  9. ^ "Press release: Statement from ACU regarding false headline by Washington publication POLITICO". American Conservative Union. July 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  10. ^ Center for Responsive Politics

External links

  • Official website
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