July 17th, 2009
11:15 AM ET
14 years ago

ACU denies 'pay for play' lobbying charges

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The American Conservative Union is denying a report it reversed policy positions in a "pay for play" lobbying controversy, distancing itself from Chairman David Keene – but acknowledged Friday it had sent a letter that seemed to pledge institutional support in exchange for corporate contributions.

Politico reported Friday that the ACU had sent FedEx a letter June 30 formally offering several avenues of support for the company's position in a tough battle with the National Labor Relations Board – including grassroots organizing, congressional lobbying, and the production of op-eds written by Keene and members of the group's board of directors.

The letter said those efforts would require financial resources of more than $2 million – and that once terms were agreed to, the ACU's institutional machinery would swing into action within hours.

FedEx never agreed to the terms; the ACU says the company never responded to the offer. Roughly two weeks later, a letter bearing the logo of several conservative groups and signatures of several conservative leaders was sent to the company's president, Frederick Smith, opposing the FedEx position. The letter included the logo of the ACU, and the name of David Keene, who was identified as the group's president.

In the Politico story, a FedEx spokesman accused the group of offering to exchange its policy positions for contributions.

In its Friday statement blasting the initial report, the ACU did not dispute the authenticity of the first letter – but it denied that Keene had been speaking for anyone other than himself in the second letter, despite the use of the group's name and logo.

"Mr. David Keene's name was on a letter prepared by another organization," said a statement issued by the group Friday, signed by executive vice president Dennis Whitfield. "This was a personal decision on his part and he was not representing ACU at the time. No permission was given by ACU, and no logo was provided by ACU, to the organization who issued the letter in question.

"ACU's policy position on this issue has not changed and it will not change.

"ACU's positions on important policy issues have never been for sale."

The ACU also said it had not received contributions from any of the group's mentioned in the Politico report, which would include both FedEx and rival UPS.

Keene has not yet reacted to the Politico story or the ACU's characterization of the July 15 letter bearing his name.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. carlo

    So much for ACORN, heh Rethugs?

    July 17, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. katiec

    Hope they publicise all correspondence on this.
    This blackmail by politicians needs to be stopped and all those
    involved need to be exposed!!

    July 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Corporate America paying for legislation in their favor?

    NOOOOO !!!!! Can't be true. Next you'll be telling us Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies do this horrid thing also.

    July 17, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Give us some more political names. We can't get rid of them if you keep that secret too.

    July 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Okey Moronu

    Lets see what FOX has to say about this.

    July 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Cheryl

    More proof that government is broken and parties are crooked.

    July 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Moderate Democrat

    Conservatives: Their policies are for sale. Always have been, always will be. They don't HAVE a true policy, nor idealogies. Their position can be bought. They are total dirt bags!

    July 17, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Charles

    It is purely business!! So many guys use "Conservative" to make money.

    July 17, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Shucks

    crooked "christians" Oh my!!!

    July 17, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Andy and I took all our stocks out of FedX they are going to take a big hit soon.

    July 17, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. GOP= Get Our Pay

    WOW..you mean the GOP is for sale??? Rethugs need a bailout..lol

    July 17, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. stevetall

    Slime-bag, greedy conservative action group? Is this a surprize to some of you?

    Ah, the money-changers. At least they've been kicked out of the temple.

    July 17, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Susan (Michigan)

    Wow, I can hardly believe that Conservatives would offer their support in return for cash. But I thought Conservatives were lily white and always played by the rules? Does this mean that Bush and Cheney really did break laws? Next you'll be telling us that uberconservative Palin only quit her job for the money. I need to sit down.

    July 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Fla.

    What is it with these "conservatives" and FedEx? First, it was C STREET nonsense & Sen. Ensign, now this.

    July 17, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. mark b.

    the only reason they believe in God is because his name is printed on the dollar bill.

    July 17, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. OldUncleTom

    Well, like other forms of infidelity to principle, this sort of corruption is also bipartisan.

    The public will decide, based on individual ideology, whether this is a "crime against humanity" or "boys will be boys" issue.

    Let the games begin...

    July 17, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. God bless America

    That says is all,

    the GOP is not only racist, but also corrupt and sleazy.

    July 17, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. DougH

    Conservative cheats now sounds redundant. They break the law when they are in control, they cheat on their wives while claiming moral superiority, and they double our debt so that their rich buddies can pay less in taxes.

    Conservatives are conserving bad government and bad personal values. Both are bad for our country.

    July 17, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. The Shrooming Liberal

    HAHAHA! Way to go repubs!

    July 17, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. Steve (the real one)

    You lefties are hilarious! Blago is up to his eye balls in legal troubles for "pay to play". Rattner the Car Czar has or will soon quit because of "pay to play".
    1. You have heard tapes in the Blago case
    2. Rattner is actually quitting, why?
    3. Right now we have a she said/he said in the ACU case
    Even if you count the ACU story, the score is Dems 2, Repubs 1
    IF you were being honest!

    July 17, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Minnesotan

    Faux News will run this story and the headline on the bottom of the screen will read "Liberal organization caught doing pay-for-play politics." Or "ACU cought doing pay-for-play politics. (D)"

    July 17, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. You lose all credibility when you say Palin is smart

    Gee, where are comments from makesUwonder and pheonix86?

    Oh yea, they are too busy ignoring this and making fun of Franken. blip. blip. blip.

    July 17, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. GOP = Party of Tolerance

    ACU is the most corrupt, money-grubbing fake "public interest" organization in America. Looks like ACU just lost their tax-exempt status. ACU is no different than any other lobbying firm it has no principles whatsoever. Fake conservatives prostituting their beliefs.

    July 17, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    I guess the pot and the kettle are both black? Corruption is rampant on both sides of the spectrum of politics! So you hypocrit democrats should not be gloating. I just vote for the lesser of 2 evils.

    July 17, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |