Earlier this month, health insurance company Aetna accidentally leaked a document that revealed that the company secretly funneled $7.7 million to Republican front groups in 2010. The money was earmarked for the Karl Rove's American Action Forum ($3.3 million) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($4.4 million), two groups that led the charge in fighting against health reform and running deceptive advertising about supporters of the law. One particularly nasty American Action Network ad said congressmen who voted for the bill were providing viagra for rapists.
This morning outside the Supreme Court, as crowds gathered to await the decision, we ran into Doug Holtz-Eakin, the economist who helped launch American Action Network and its sister 501(c)3 group, American Action Forum. He is listed on the American Action Network website as one of their "experts," and he told FrumForum that he would be working closely with the American Action Network to put "ideas into action." When the pair of groups launched in 2010, the New York Times reported Holtz-Eakin as "part of American Action Network."
But Holtz-Eakin is apparently nervous about answering questions about the health insurance money that helps fund his network of front groups.
Holtz-Eakin evaded our questions about the secret Aetna cash. Instead, he tried to pivot and say he was only affiliated with the American Action Forum, not the Action Network. When we pointed our that the American Action Network and Forum are clearly linked and have the same address and office space, he turned and refused to talk to us. Watch the video above.
The American Action Network, which is organized as a 501(c)4 educational foundation, spent well over 50% of its budget on attack ads in 2010, much of it funded by Aetna. The organization is now facing calls for an IRS inquiry given that the group's advocacy spending may qualify as a violation of its "primary purpose" as an educational non-profit.