Aegis Strategic

Aegis Strategic

Background

According to Politico, Aegis Strategic was founded “with the Kochs’ blessing after an analysis concluded that their network’s efforts in the run-up to the 2012 election suffered from flawed GOP candidates.” [1]

In 2014, Mother Jones wrote a piece on the recently formed Aegis Strategic: “The consulting firm plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs’ free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections. ‘We seek out electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda who will be forceful at both the policy and political levels,’ the company notes on its website. Aegis says it can manage every aspect of a campaign, including advertising, direct mail, social media, and fundraising.” [2]

Aegis president Jeff Crank reportedly downplayed his group’s connection to the Kochs in an interview with Mother Jones, however others who had spoken with Crank about the business suggested he had touted his firm’s connection to the Kochs in meetings with prospective business partners. “I think there’s some kind of an assumption that there is [a Koch connection],” Crank said. “It’s not a large leap for anybody to make.” [2]

Crank formerly ran the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a key strategic group founded by the Kochs. Aegis’ former lead strategist Karl Crow was a project coordinator for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Several other Aegis staff also have connections to groups within the Koch network. [2]

Aegis Strategic has reportedly operated out of the same address as a group titled Trees of Liberty, which SourceWatch describes as “a 501(c)4 dark money non-profit financed and operated by the Koch network. The group was formed by Karl Crow. [3][1]

Aegis PAC

In June 2015, Aegis Strategic created Aegis PAC to fund conservative candidates. As reported by Conservative Transparency (CT), the Aegis PAC website (no longer in operation, or available at the Internet Archive) originally described the group as “a project of Aegis Strategic, whose mission is to help establish America as a country of freedom and opportunity for all citizens by identifying and working to elect principled leader committed to promoting a free and prosperous America” [4]

“Make your political contributions count,” The Aegis PAC website read in 2016.  “Not all republicans are worth electing and not all races are competitive.” [5]

CT reports that a Aegis Strategic donation form revealed “contributions made through AegisPAC will be transmitted directly to the designated candidates for federal and state offices.”  [5]

Those supported by Aegis PAC in their individual races included:  [5]

  • Sen. Patrick Toomey
  • Sen. Ron Johnson
  • Pam Tucker
  • John Faso
  • Jim Banks
  • Lee Zeldin
  • Don Bacon
  • Greg Gianforte
  • Bill Cole
  • Josh Hawley

According to data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), AegisPAC disbursed a grand total of $376,289  from between 2015 to 2016. Data suggests that these were the only years that Aegis PAC was active. [6]

Stance on Climate Change

Aegis Strategic’s Karl Crow launched a nonprofit group called Trees of Liberty that shared an address with Aegis. According to Politico, shortly after creation, Trees of Liberty launched an advertising campaign attacking Mark Jacobs, a retired energy executive and rival to Joni Ernst whom Aegis was supporting, for having supported a carbon tax in the past. Video below: [1]

In the ad, the announcer says:

“Remember Cap and trade? Pushed by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid and praised by Mark Jacobs. Like Obama, Texas businessman Mark Jacobs said a Washington ‘cap and trade system works very well’ and ‘really hits the mark’.

But the plan would have exploded energy costs, hurt the economy, and even cost Americans jobs—up to 30,000 jobs in Iowa. Call Mark Jacobs. Tell him Iowa families can’t afford higher energy costs from Washington.”

Funding

Freedom Partners Contractor

According to publicly available 990 documents for Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, “Aegis Strategy LLC” is one of the top paid independent contractors with a total of $2,735,004 in consulting fees recorded from between 2012 and 2017. According to 990s, Aegis Strategy LLC has the following address: [1]

PO BOX 88003
Colorado Springs, CO 80908

According to Politico, Aegis “ has an ongoing consulting contract with Freedom Partners and also has worked with other Koch-backed groups,” so presumably the groups are one and the same. While this address does not match the primary VA one listed for Aegis Strategy LLC, it does also appear in a 2011 post on former Aegis Strategic president Jeff Crank’s website calling for donations to help fight juvenile diabetes.  [1], [7]

AegisPAC — Money Raised

The following is based on data pulled from the FEC website: [6]

  Report Year
Donor 2015 2016 Grand Total
ROWLAND, HERMAN G SR $100,000   $100,000
O’BATE, CECIL $95,000   $95,000
HUNT, WOODY L. $45,000 $45,000 $90,000
SLAWSON, STEPHEN $45,000 $45,000 $90,000
CAMERON, RONALD M. $53,600   $53,600
SLAWSON, ROBERT   $46,500 $46,500
COOK, KATHARYN S.   $45,000 $45,000
COOK, LEO W.   $45,000 $45,000
PHILIPS, GARY L.   $20,800 $20,800
BROWN, RICHARD KING   $20,000 $20,000
EAGLE BANK   $17,520 $17,520
HAWLEY FOR MISSOURI ELECTION COMMITTEE $5,400   $5,400
WEISS, MARY ELIZABETH $5,000   $5,000
BRANDMEYER, M . JEANNE   $5,000 $5,000
WEISS, RICHARD $5,000   $5,000
BRANDMEYER, A. JOSEPH   $5,000 $5,000
COPPERMAN, PAUL   $3,000 $3,000
GREG FOR MONTANA   $2,600 $2,600
FRIENDS OF BILL COLE $1,000   $1,000
MANSOUR, JOSEPH $92   $92
Grand Total $355,092 $300,420 $655,512

Key Documents

Below is Aegis Strategic’s business filing at the state of Delaware, originally published at Politico.

 

Key People

Name 2014 2015 2018 2019 Description
Alan Philp Y Y Y Y Chief Operating Officer
Brad Stevens Y Y Y Y Director of Candidate Identification
Jeff Crank Y Y Y Y President*
Joe Burgan   Y Y Y Candidate Identification
Julie Treadman   Y Y Y Director of Special Projects**
Tommy von der Heydt   Y Y   Director of Development
Aaron Greenberg Y Y     Political Analyst
Christine Van Horn Y Y     Political Analyst
Karl Crow Y Y     Lead Strategist

Note that the dates above are via snapshots of the Aegis Strategic website via the Internet Archive. It appears the Aegis Strategic website may not have been fully updated since some time in 2015.

*While Jeff Crank is listed as president on the Aegis website as of May 2019, his profile at The Jeff Crank Show says he was president of Aeigis Strategic from 2013 to 2016. [8]

**Julie Treadman’s LinkedIn profile suggests that she stopped working for the company in 2016, however she was still listed on the Aegis Strategic website as of 2019. [9]

Alan Philp — Chief Operating Officer

Alan Philp

Alan Philp has worked as the deputy chief of staff for former Colorado Governor Bill Owens, policy director for Governor Jeb Bush, regional political director for the Republican National Committee, regional political director for Mitt Romney’s 2007-08 presidential campaign, and executive director of the Colorado Republican Party. [10]

He has also served as the executive director of Center for the New American Center, and a founding member of its Board of Directors since 2002. CNAC no longer appears to be in operation. From 1994 to 1994, he served as research director for the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation where he “developed the annual Cost of Government Day project.” [11]

Philp is also listed as president of Citizens for a Sound Government (CSG), a partner at CAP Public Affairs, and a founding partner at the digital advocacy firm Wholecrowd, LLC, according to his profile at CSG. [12]

Brad Stevens — Director of Candidate Identification

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens is a former state director and national advisory committee official for Americans for Prosperity. According to his profile at Aegis, Stevens “has build extensive networks of grassroots activists and grasstops support for clients, thanks to years of work as a senior staff member for congressional and local political campaigns.” [10]

His archived profile at AfP shows he served in the Nebraska Legislature as legislative aide to Senator Beau McCoy. Prior to that he worked for two years as a campus missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. [13]

Jeff Crank —  President*

Jeff Crank

Jeff Crank is listed as president of Aegis Strategies on its website as of 2019. He is also the chief operating officer for both Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. He was senior vice president for governmental affairs at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, and was vice president for government sales at XAware Corporation, a “data integration solutions” company.  [10]

Crank was a U.S. Congress candidate in 2006 and 2008 and served on the Washington staff of U.S. Congressman Joel Hefley from 1991 to 1998. He also hosts The Jeff Crank Show, a conservative talk radio show on 740 KVOR in Colorado. [10]

*Note: While Jeff Crank is listed as president on the Aegis website as of May 2019, his profile at The Jeff Crank Show says he was president of Aegis Strategic from 2013 to 2016. [8]

Joe Burgan  Candidate Identification

Joe Burgan

According to his profile at Aegis Strategic, Joe Burgan “has worked in every aspect of campaigns.  From GOTV organization, communications and fundraising, to TV production, media buying and managing statewide campaigns, Joe has the expertise to guide winning campaigns.” [10]

He has been a “strategist and consultant on various public affairs initiatives addressing a host of issues, including education reform, public pensions and transportation infrastructure.” Those initiatives are not named by Aegis.   [10]

According to his profile on LinkedIn, Burgan works as the director of public affairs for the Kentucky7 and Tennessee regions for AT&T, and was the  owner of Irish Hill Consulting, a public affairs and PR firm, until January 2017. According to business filings at the Kentucky Secreatry of State, Burgan was still listed as the group’s president as of 2018. [14], [15]

Julie Treadman — Director of Special Projects*

Julie Treadman

Julie Treadman joined Aegis Strategic in 2014. She previously worked for the Bush Administration as a Schedule C political appointee at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has held a variety of positions as the Republican National Committee in “Political, Grassroots Development, Co-Chair’s Office, and Research,” according to her Aegis profile. [10]

According to her LinkedIn profile, she held her position at Aegis until February 2017 and now serves as client services director at Wiland. She also worked as a senior account executive at FLS Connect, and ass “Senior Voter Contact Account Manager at that company serving as the “Exclusive Voter Contact Executive for the Romney for President, Inc. portfolio.” [9]

Tommy von der Heydt Former Director of Development

Tommy von der Heydt

Tommy von der Heydt joined Aegis Strategic in 2014. He was last listed on the website in 2018. According to his profile at Aegis, Tommy also works as deputy director of member relations for Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a key organization the Koch donor network. He also previously worked as senior development officer at Americans for Prosperity. Prior to that, he worked in the Bush White House Staff Secretary’s Office. [12]

According to his LinkedIn profile, Tommy von der Heydt now works as the senior director of member relations for The Seminar Network, a Koch group that was recently rebranded as Stand Together. [16]

Aaron Greenberg Former Political Analyst

Aaron Greenberg

Prior to working as political analyst at Aegis Strategic, Aaron Greenberg was a research analyst for WPA Opinion Research and then as an assistant to the vice president for The Leadership Institute.[12]

According to Greenberg’s LinkedIn profile, he stopped working for Aegis in March 2016. He then went on to work for the Koch-controlled i360, a voter data company, and later as a research analyst at the Republican Governors Association. Most recently he was a reports specialist at FEMA. [17]

Christine Van Horn —  Former Political Analyst

Christina Van Horn

Christine Van Horn was listed as a political analyst on the Aegis Website in 2015. She was “responsible for tracking legislative performance and writes for the Aegis Newsletter.” [12]

Karl Crow  Former Lead Strategist

Karl Crow

Before joining Aegis Strategtic as lead strategist, Karl Crow was a co-founder and senior analyst with the Kochs’ voter data company i360. Prior to that, Crow worked as a project coordinator at the Charles G. Koch Charitable foundation where he focused “ on how political advocates for economic freedom are identified, trained and promoted.” Karl graduated from the Koch Associate Program and “has experience both on Capitol Hill and K Street.”  [12]

According to his LinkedIn, Crow stopped working as a strategist at Aegis in January 2016, and went on to become a project manager at Freedom Partners Shared Services. Most recently he was listed as a Manager at The Seminar Network. [18]

Actions

April 24, 2014

Mother Jones reported one of the first individuals backed by Aegis Strategic was Bruce Westerman, the former Republican majority leader of the Arkansas state House. At its launch, Aegis had only one client: Marilinda Garcia, a New Hampshire state lawmaker running for Congress. [19]

Campaign filings showed that Aegis was backing Westerman in his run to replace Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District. [19]

“Both of Aegis’ two congressional clients also have received financial support from Kochworld,” Andy Kroll noted at Mother Jones. “Garcia received a $2,500 donation from Koch Industries’ political action committee, two $2,500 checks from AFP-New Hampshire’s Greg Moore, and $250 from Alan Philp, whom Aegis lists as its chief operating officer. Westerman also got a $250 check from Philp.” [19]

January 2014

Mother Jones broke the story of Aegis Strategic’s creation and role inside the Koch Network, describing the group’s  “plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs’ free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections.” [2]

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

A 2016 complaint filed by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) and the Center for Media and Democracy suggested that Aegis Strategic operated out of the same address as a group titled “Trees of Liberty” founded by political consultant Karl Crow. The complaint notes Crow previously worked as a policy analyst for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and a strategist for Themis Trust, a voter database project funded by the Kochs. [3]

The address listed on the Aegis Strategic Website as of 2019 appears the same as listed in the CREW complaint:  [20]

2000 14th Street N.
Suite 710
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 935.0471

Social Media

Resources

  1. Kenneth P. Vogel. “How the Kochs launched Joni Ernst,” Politico, November 12, 2015. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/YSG3u

  2. Andy Kroll. “New Koch-Linked Political Firm Aims to Handpick ‘Electable’ Candidates,” Mother Jones, January 17, 2014. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/4USUJ

  3. “Re: Complaint against Trees of Liberty, Inc.” (PDF), CREW, January 28, 2016. Retrieved from Politico. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  4. Aegis Strategic & Aegis PAC,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed May 28, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/yesqy

  5. “Make Your Political Contributions Count” (PDF), Aegis PAC. Retrieved from Challenger Archives, PRWatch.org.

  6. AEGISPAC,” Federal Election Commission. Data retrieved May 28, 2019.

  7. Join Team Crank to Fight Juvenile Diabetes,” The Jeff Crank Show. August 19, 2011. Archived May 28, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/KszqY

  8. “Jeff Crank,” The Jeff Crank Show. Archived May 27, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/jkX7r

  9. “Julie Treadman,” LinkedIn. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  10. Your Aegis Team,” Aegis Strategic. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qd2P7

  11. Board,” CNAF. Archived June 29, 2003. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/az7FI

  12. Your Aegis Team,” Aegis Strategic. Archived December 4, 2015. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qd2P7

  13. AFP-Nebraska State Director: Brad Stevens,” Americans for Prosperity. Archived June 19, 2010. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/SPzvY

  14. “Joe Burgan,” LinkedIn. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .[pdf on file at DeSmog.

  15. Irish Hill Consulting, LLC: Company Number 0778680,” Kentucky Secretary of State Online Services. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  16. Tommy von der Heydt,” LinkedIn. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. Aaron G.“ LinkedIn profile. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

  18. Karl Crow,” LinkedIn. Accessed May 27, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  19. Andy Kroll. “Koch-Linked Firm Devoted to Grooming “Electable” Candidates Signs Up Arkansas GOP Leader,” Mother Jones, April 24, 2014. Archived May 27, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/zKCq6

  20. We Build Winning Campaigns,” Aegis Strategic. Archived May 26, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/khQtS

Other Resources

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