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USANext's February 21st 2005 smear attack ad against AARP

USANext's February 21st 2005 attack ad against AARP, posted on the website of the American Spectator [1]. The ad was quickly pulled [2].

USANext (aka USA United Generations) is the latest incarnation of United Seniors Association. The group is a conservative 501c4 organization that consistantly promotes policies that benefit corporate interests. Direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie co-founded the group in 1991, according to Public Citizen.[3] Since 2001, Charles Jarvis has led the group.

According to the group's website, "USA United Generations and USA NEXT are grassroots projects of United Seniors Association (USA) which is celebrating its 13th anniversary as the non-partisan, 1.5 million-plus nationwide grassroots network Uniting the Generations for America’s Future." [4]

United Seniors Association took in $26.6 million in revenue for 2003 according to the group's IRS form 990.

Medicare and Social Security

A February 2003 AARP consumer alert notes that "recently, the U.S. Social Security Administration ordered one of them to halt what it determined to be misleading mailings." It also reports that it began backing a plan "to allow more production of domestic energy in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge" after receiving more than $181,000 from Anchorage-based Arctic Power.

The Center for American Progress November 14, 2003, report states:

COMPANIES HIRE MERCENARY "GRASSROOTS" GROUP: To influence the final Medicare bill, the drug industry has bankrolled a front group to air ads throughout the country. The United Seniors Association (USA) is "a conservative, grassroots organization for the elderly… just as likely to be flacking for corporate special interests as it is to be representing seniors." The drug lobby pays the group "as a front for its TV and radio 'issue' ad campaigns," which is also "used by several corporate energy front groups pushing for the GOP legislation."

A May 2004 Washington Monthly article provided further details:

Then there's the benignly-named United Seniors Association (USA), which serves as a soft money slush fund for a single GOP-friendly industry: pharmaceuticals. USA claims a nationwide network of more than one million activists, but, just like Progress for America, listed zero income from membership dues in its most recent available tax return. USA does, however, have plenty of money on its hands. During the 2002 elections, with an "unrestricted educational grant" from the drug industry burning a hole in its pocket, the group spent roughly $14 million--the lion's share of its budget--on ads defending Republican members of Congress for their votes on a Medicare prescription-drug bill. [5]

In 2004, USANext was one of the groups pushing for the Bush administration's Social Security privatization plan. According to the New York Times, the organization had $28 million in annual revenues, and it aggressively seeks contributions from industry: "Health care companies, energy companies, the food industry, just about everybody except for financial investment companies." [6]

The Times reported in February 2005 the group's recent hires:

To help set USANext's strategy, the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an enthusiastic former marine who advised Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, formerly known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials. He earned more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show.
Officials said the group is also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm that was hired by Swift Vets and was paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show.
For public relations, USA Next has turned to Creative Response Concepts, a Virginia firm that represented both Swift Vets - the company was paid more than $165,000 - and Regnery Publishing, the publisher of "Unfit for Command," a book about Senator John Kerry's military service whose co-author was John E. O'Neill, one of the primary leaders of Swift Vets.[7]

Long-distance rates

In March 2004, the United Seniors Association commissioned a push-poll scaring seniors about the potential rise in long distance telephone costs as a result of a prior DC Circuit Court ruling.

In a letter to Congress on March 10, 2004, Mary P. Mahoney, Vice President of Government Relations for USA, wrote: "We are concerned about the recent development in the DC Circuit Court that over turned what Congress has done in regard to local telephone competition. We know you must be as concerned about this as we are... I have enclosed an op-ed by [USA President] Charlie Jarvis, an op-ed by Tech Central Station's James Glassman, as well as a script of a telephone survey we will be conducting in your district."

This action appears to be coordinated with a campaign run by Voices for Choices to pressure the Bush administration and FCC to appeal a recent telecommunications court decision. In addition to being president of USA, Charlie Jarvis is a board member of Defenders of Property Rights, one of several conservative groups that comprise the AT&T-funded (and DCI Group-operated) "Voices for Choices" coalition front group. The Washington Monthly also exposed Tech Central Station in December 2003 as a DCI creation with funding from AT&T. According to news reports, AT&T opposed the DC Circuit ruling because the decision would impact the company's bottom line.

Staff and Board members

According to information from Public Citizen [8] and gleaned from USA's IRA form 990:

  • Other USANext directors and paid staff:
    • Sandra Bulter, director
    • Anne R. Keast, director
    • Ron Robinson, director
    • A. Lee Barrett, Jr., director
    • Anne L. Edwards, director
    • Kathy Diamond, VP member services
    • Mary P. Mahoney, VP legislative
    • Kathleen Pattern, VP marketing

Contact Information

3900 Jermantown Road #450
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Website: NOTE: Web address was reported as defunct on March 10, 2010

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links


  • Banner Ads: "The Real AARP Agenda," The American Spectator, February 21, 2005: "They've already started throwing some banner ads around the conservative web that show that they certainly mean business with this smear campaign. The first one is already running on The American Spectator's site, and some clever bloggers dug up the other two by working out the file names. ... Nice, huh? The AARP, it would seem, is suddenly an anti-military, pro gay marriage, uber-liberal organization. They're featured with the Mount Rushmore of liberal evil (in conservative eyes) - The Clintons, Jesse Jackson and Ted Kennedy, and then featured in a poll with the ACLU, NAACP and NARAL, those America hating organizations that are always going on and on about freedom of speech, equal rights for blacks, and privacy for women. ... Josh Marshall has more here and here." [9]

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