United Senoirs vs. the AARP

USA Next (United Seniors Association) considers itself to be the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) which it regards as too liberal. USA Next is part of the Uniting the Generations for America’s Future Network, which claims more than 1.5 million members across the nation. Its motto is: “Building a Legacy of Freedom for America’s Families.” (1) (2)

Art Linkletter serves as national chairman, and since 2001 Charles W. Jarvis has served as USA Next’s chairman and chief executive officer. Jarvis served as deputy undersecretary of the interior during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations; and more recently Jarvis was executive vice president of Focus on the Family. Sitting on its board of directors are Sandra Butler, Anne R. Keast, Ron Robinson, A. Lee Barrett, Jr., James Wooton, and Anne L. Edwards. William Brindley is the executive vice president, secretary and treasurer; Kathy Diamond is the VP for member services; Mary Mahoney is the VP for legislative matters; and Kathleen Pattern is the VP for marketing. (2) (3) (4) (5) (7)

 

Origins and History

Richard Viguerie founded the United Senior Association in 1991. Viguerie became a household Republican name with his success in direct mailing schemes. A year after its founding, allegations arose that Viguerie was sending senior citizens alarmist mailings regarding Social Security that requested contributions to cover lobbying and educational efforts aimed at preventing the system’s collapse. It was suspected that the money was funneled into companies that Viguerie owned, but this issue never made it to court. The USA Next and United Seniors websites are one and the same; and its current issues include the Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation, Social Security reform, and the elimination of all federal support for AARP. USA Next engages primarily in educational and lobbying activities. (2) (5)

Richard Viguerie founded the United Senior Association in 1991. Viguerie became a household Republican name with his success in direct mailing schemes. A year after its founding, allegations arose that Viguerie was sending senior citizens alarmist mailings regarding Social Security that requested contributions to cover lobbying and educational efforts aimed at preventing the system’s collapse. It was suspected that the money was funneled into companies that Viguerie owned, but this issue never made it to court. The USA Next and United Seniors websites are one and the same; and its current issues include the Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation, Social Security reform, and the elimination of all federal support for AARP. USA Next engages primarily in educational and lobbying activities. (2) (5)

USA Next is a member of the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security (AWRS), and was successful in promoting 2004’s legislation on Medicare prescription drug benefits. Its partners in the effort were pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, as well as the GOP. Pfizer is a member of the AWRS. With about $9 million that came in part from pharmaceutical companies, USA Next was able build popular support for the legislation through a campaign of television advertising and mailings. (5) (7) (8)

Its most vigorous campaign to date is its attempt to delegitimize the AARP, which opposes instituting personal retirement accounts as part of Social Security reform-a position advocated by USA Next (and the White House). In a New York Times article, Jarvis stated that his organization will “be the dynamite that removes them [AARP].” Jarvis recently hired several individuals or groups involved in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: Chris LaCivita, who was involved with the ads; Rick Reed, who was in charge of media production; Creative Response Concepts, which represented them, and Regnery Publishing, which distributed the book, “Unfit for Command.” This group’s main goal was to discredit democratic presidential candidate John Kerry before the 2004 elections. Jarvis considers it an “honor” to be compared to the Swift Boat Veterans group in its own campaign to discredit the AARP and back the president’s privatization plan for Social Security. (5)

Branding the AARP as a liberal organization, Jarvis and Linkletter have appeared on several news programs, particularly on the Fox News Channel, to express their disdain for AARP. USA Next’s goal is to attract one million AARP members to their side-a goal it says is feasible given that 37% of AARP’s membership identifies with the Republican Party. (5) (6)

Although both USA Next reps and the White House deny that they are working jointly on reforming Social Security, Jarvis affirms: “We know the people at the White House agree with us and we agree with them.” Jarvis has publicly stated his group’s intention to devote at least $10 million to the effort. (5) (9)

 

Funding

USA Next’s 2003 revenues were approximately $26 million. The bulk of its revenue pays for television and radio ads, which replaced direct mailing as the primary outreach method a few years after its founding. 2003 figures show that USA Next paid Advocacy Technologies more than $1 million for services, and almost a quarter of a million dollars was paid to Saturn Corporation for mail processing. Other contractors include Southwest Publishing and Mailing, Valley Press, Inc., and USA Direct, Inc. (4) (5)

Contact Information:

USA Next
3900 Jermantown Road #450
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Phone: (703) 359-6500
Fax: (703) 359-6510
http://www.usanext.org/index.cfm
info@usanext.org

TANYA GARCIA writes for the International Resource Center and prepared this report for their Right Web Profiles

 

Sources

(1) USA Next: News and Information
http://www.usanext.org/news.cfm

(2) USA Next: Bios: Art Linkletter
http://www.usanext.org/news.cfm

(3) USA Next: Bios: Charles W. Jarvis
http://www.usanext.org/Bios_charles.cfm

(4) Guidestar.org: United Seniors Association: Form 990
http://www.guidestar.org/Documents/2003/541/590/2003-541590915-1-9.pdf

(5) Glen Justice, “A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets,” The New York Times, February 21, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/21/politics/

(6) USA Next: In the News
http://www.usanext.org/inthenews.cfm

(7) Don Lattin, “Pushing poverty into ‘moral-values’ debate: Some religious leaders trying to broaden discussion beyond abortion and marriage,” The San Francisco Chronicle, December 12, 2004
http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1410

(8) The Alliance for Worker Retirement Security: Alliance Members
http://web.archive.org/web/

(9) Susan Milligan and Rick Klein, “Bush asks nation to back Social Security changes: State of Union gives pledge on benefits,” The Boston Globe, February 3, 2005
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/

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