A right-wing organization linked to Karl Rove has opened offices in Geneseo and Freeport and plans to conduct voter registration drives, run phone banks and "educate Illinoisians."
American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) organization, does not have to disclose its donors but can advocate for political causes. The group reported spending $26 million in the 2010 congressional elections.
So far in the 17th District, the AAN has not worked to directly oppose Democrat Cheri Bustos, who is running against Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona.
Asked if that could change, AAN spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said "It's certainly possible. You are just going to have to wait and see."
The organization has sent out mailers in the 17th District asking the public to "call Congressman Schilling and urge him to continue fighting for our jobs by voting to keep taxes low."
Ms. Hougesen said American Action Network wants to establish a permanent presence in the 17th District to advocate for "center-right" causes.
"This is just in the very early stages," she said. "We are just getting up and running."
She said AAN also has been campaigning against "Obamacare," by warning the public of what the organization views as the damage President Barack Obama's healthcare law would have on Medicare.
News reports in July said AAN was launching a $10 million "grassroots" campaign in states where the Republican Party traditionally was weak and help was needed in competitive House races.
AAN was founded in 2010 by former Minnesota GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former senior advisor to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.
The group used to share office space with Republican Karl Rove's American Crossroads organization, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
AAN's board of directors includes Fred Malek, chairman of Thayer Lodging Group, a private equity firm that has acquired more than $3 billion in hotel assets, according to AAN's website. Mr. Malek is a former president of Mariott Hotels and was an official under President Richard Nixon.
Isaac Applbaum, a founding partner of Opus Capital, "a billion-dollar early stage venture fund," also sits on the board of ANN, as does C. Boyden Gray, a former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union under President George W. Bush.
Today is Monday, May 20, the 140th day of 2013. There are 225 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A petition is being circulated asking the city council to order awell bored in Market Square. It would be a great accommodation to the public. 1888 -- 125 years ago: At 1 p.m. on May 18 the Mississippi River flooded its banks atRock Island and destroyed the warehouse of the Rock Island Lumber Co. and damagedRock Island Arsenal power plant. Total loss is estimated at $100,000. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Residents of Sough Rock Island Township are circulating apetition favoring the annexation of that area to the City of Rock Island. 1938 -- 75 years ago: A group of state members of the National Grandmothers Clubmeeting in Rock Island are making plans to petition for the observance of a NationalGrandmothers Day. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Deere and Co. reported today that its U.S. and Canadian sales forthe first half of the 1963 fiscal year set an all time record of $323,716.628. 1988 -- 25 years ago: William G. Lawrence, first administrative director, has retired fromPECO Enterprises, Inc. Prior to his service at PECO, Mr. Lawrence was the civilianpersonnel officer at the Rock Island Arsenal.