Liberal group American Bridge launches initiative targeting conservative movement

A liberal advocacy group is launching a new initiative through its nonprofit arm that will monitor conservative outside organizations and think tanks, Yahoo News has learned.

The American Bridge 21st Century foundation, a nonprofit group, is running the the new program and operates alongside the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. The new program, called the Bridge Project, will conduct research into a nationwide network of conservative think tanks, advocacy organizations, super PACs and tea party groups. The operation is headed by David Brock, founder of the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters.

The aim is three-fold: The Bridge Project plans to operate as a source of rapid response to political ads launched by Republican-friendly outside groups, track donations to these groups from conservative donors by reviewing tax filings and other public documents, and serve as a research organization that will file regular public policy briefings.

The group, which has directed research teams to build databases on several conservative groups, will use the website to disseminate the information. The new site will regularly highlight ads from conservative groups and detailed profiles on the individual donors who fund them.

"We hope the Bridge Project will serve as an important resource for the public by providing them with concrete facts on all aspects of the conservative movement," Bridge Project Communications Director Chris Harris told Yahoo News.

While the super PAC arm is allowed to expressly support candidates for public office and must disclose the names of its donors, the nonprofit running the new initiative must keep its work mostly to issue advocacy, but is not required by law to reveal the names of those who fund it.

And even though American Bridge supports legislation that would force politically active nonprofits to reveal more information about their donors, the group does not release the names of its own. It does, however, make its quarterly fundraising numbers public. Since its founding in 2011, the nonprofit in charge of the new initiative reported raising $4 million through the second quarter of this year. The super PAC has raised about $8.6 million this election cycle.

Although the project is launching during an election year, American Bridge plans to make it "a permanent part of the progressive infrastructure" that will operate beyond Election Day.