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


The ACU is well-known for its annual ranking of politicians according to how they voted 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.

The 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 many 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 CSPAN.


Founded in December 1964 by author and commentator William F Buckley Jr, the ACU was established after the defeat of Barry Goldwater.

In 1984, David Keene, the current chairman of the ACU, assumed that position. He is also the managing associate of Carmen Group Lobbying, a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm.

FedEx controversy

In a letter dated June 30, 2009, the ACU asked FedEx to pay the ACU 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. 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." In mid-July, the ACU said that it had not received a response to its letter.

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. The letter included, at its top, logos from the ACU and the other organizations. Whitfield said on July 16 that Keene had endorsed the second letter as an individual, even though the letter bore the logo of ACU. On July 17, the ACU issued a press release saying that permission to use the logo had not been given by the ACU, and that the ACU continued to stand with the policy supported by FedEx.


ACU has spent $137,000 on lobbying during the past five years (2004-2008).


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