American Edge Project

The American Edge Project is a coalition dedicated to the proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.

  • The coalition and its members will tell the story about the positive impact technology and innovation have on America’s economy and businesses, particularly small ones, and how they enhance freedom of expression and our nation’s overall security.

American technology and innovation have improved lives and have resulted in broad economic growth in the United States.

  • According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. digital economy accounted for 10.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or $3.31 trillion, in 2020. That year, the digital economy accounted for 7.8 million jobs.
  • Compared to the 1.5 percent growth rate in the overall economy between 2012 and 2022, the digital economy’s growth rate grew 4.8 percent over that period.
  • From 2012 to 2020, the average annual growth rate for digital economy employment was 2.5 percent. Compensation for jobs in the sector showed stronger growth, with an average annual rate of 6.0 percent for 2012 to 2020 and 7.3 percent growth between 2019 and 2020.

American small businesses are leveraging digital platforms to sell more products and to expand service offerings.

  • A 2018 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 84 percent of small businesses are using at least one major digital platform to provide information to customers and 74 percent are using these platforms for sales.
  • A Deloitte study from 2017 found that 90 percent of small businesses report that “digital tools have helped foster innovation in their business.”
  • A Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council survey found that 89 percent of small business owners said access to digital tools and online platforms was a major factor in launching their business.

American technology companies play a key role in protecting our country’s national security interests.

  • According to Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute, nine of the top 20 technology companies are now based in China rather than the U.S.
  • According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the U.S. Defense Department could “fall behind” if the private technology sector were to be weakened.
  • CFR also found that foreign nations are spending more on developing new technologies generally and “after 2030 [China] will likely be the world’s largest spender on research and development.”
  • According to Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, China, “has displaced the U.S. as the world’s top high tech manufacturer,” and, “has become a serious competitor in the foundational technologies of the 21st century: artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, quantum information science (QIS), semiconductors, biotechnology, and green energy.”
  •  The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, assessed that, “‘China possesses the might, talent, and ambition to surpass the United States as the world’s leader in AI in the next decade.’”

American technology companies have worked toward a more connected and tolerant world and helped protect the fundamental right of freedom of openness and expression from foreign government threats.

  • In 2021, the annual Freedom on the Net study on internet freedom around the world gave the U.S. a score of 75 with other nations receiving much lower numbers. China, for example, was given a score of 10.
  • By promoting greater diversity in the business community, American innovators underscore an open internet that protects free speech and safeguards against discrimination.
  • In the 2021 Freedom of Net report, China ranks as the worst environment for internet freedom for the seventh year in a row.
  • The same report found that in 56 countries, officials arrested or convicted people for their online speech.



Our Leadership

Bradley A. Smith
Chairman and Founder, Institute for Free Speech

Brad is one of the nation’s foremost experts on campaign finance law. He served as a Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, concluding his service on Aug. 21, 2005. Smith was elected as Vice Chairman of the Commission in 2003 and Chairman of the Commission in 2004.

A recent New York Times story referred to Smith as the “intellectual powerhouse” of the movement to roll back campaign finance restrictions. His 2001 book, Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform, was lauded by George Will as the year’s “most important book on governance.” Once called “the most sought after witness in Congress” on campaign finance issues, Smith has authored over 40 articles on campaign finance reform, appearing in academic publications such as the Yale Law Journal and Georgetown Law Journal, and popular publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Review. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Bill Moyers Journal, the Lehrer News Hour, Fox News Special Report, ABC News, Washington Journal, and numerous other national and local television and radio programs.

As an FEC Commissioner, Smith won plaudits for his integrity and refusal to put partisan interests ahead of his duties, as well as his steadfast support for free speech. For his honesty and integrity, the Wall Street Journal dubbed him, “the only honorable man in this bordello.” Smith now serves as the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University Law School. He has won numerous awards for his scholarship and teaching, and is a past member of the Advisory Committee to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Election Law Journal, and the Editorial Advisory Board of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. Smith is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and Kalamazoo College and holds an honorary doctorate from Augustana College.


Chris P. Carney
Former Member of Congress, (D-PA)

As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Chris served as the Chairman of the Management, Investigations, and Oversight Subcommittee. As a member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment Chris had the opportunity to work with DHS and NCTC to develop policies pertaining to international as well as domestic terrorism.

Following his time in Congress, Chris was appointed a Commissioner to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission by President Obama.

Commissioned as an Ensign in 1995, Chris has served as an intelligence officer for over 15 years. Currently, holding the rank of Commander, he is a combat Mission Operation Commander (MOC) for the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper, and RQ-4 Global Hawk ISR platforms. Chris has earned many personal awards including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Prior to running for Congress, Chris worked at the Pentagon for four years on strategic analysis of the global terrorist threat. Having worked directly with the most senior decision-makers of the Bush administration, Chris provided Red Cell analysis of the threat posed to the United States by al-Qaida, its network, and its affiliated groups. Chris ran DoD’s Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG), and was the “Special Projects” intelligence officer for two tours during Operation Southern Watch.

Chris was also a tenured professor of political science specializing in international relations at Penn State University.

Chris earned his BSS from Cornell College, a Master’s degree from the University of Wyoming, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Susana Martinez
31st Governor of New Mexico

Susana Martinez was the first female Governor of New Mexico and first Hispanic female governor in the history of the United States. In 2014, Martinez earned substantial support from Democratic and Independent voters in rural and urban areas alike to win re-election by the largest margin of any Republican gubernatorial candidate in modern history. With the exception of a two-year period of Republican control of one chamber, Martinez served alongside a Democratically-controlled Legislature throughout her time in office.

During her tenure as governor, Martinez worked across party lines to turn New Mexico’s largest budget deficit into a record surplus, slash the unemployment rate, and usher in a true economic turnaround. The bold economic reforms Martinez achieved on a bipartisan basis made New Mexico more competitive for jobs and new investment. When she left office, the state’s job growth had reached a 12-year high and household companies made New Mexico home for major operations.

Martinez also worked closely with counterparts from both political parties to implement critical education reforms to increase the high school graduation rate to an all-time high, raise academic standards, improve student learning and school performance, and close persistent achievement gaps. Martinez raised the salaries of starting teachers, significantly increased funding for – and participation in – Pre-K programs and other early childhood education initiatives, expanded literacy programs and tutoring for at-risk students, and launched new teacher and principal mentoring programs that improved classroom instruction and student performance. Meanwhile, fewer graduating students needed to take remedial courses in college on her watch, and the four-year college graduation rate at the state’s flagship university doubled.

In 2013, Martinez was recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. She served as chair of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) from 2015 to 2016. Governor Martinez serves as a Board Member for the Daniels Fund, Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), American Edge Project, Vice Chair of the Hunt-Kean Institute Board, Executive Advisory Board for Reformers Academy, Institute for Health Policy Accountability, an Advisory Board Member for the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, an Honorary Board Member for the David Westphal Veteran’s Foundation and the Heart Gallery of New Mexico and Honorary Chair of Right Direction Women.


Doug Kelly
CEO of American Edge Project

Doug’s lived experience drew him to American Edge’s mission. Raised in a small Michigan town that lost 43 percent of its manufacturing jobs over two decades, he saw firsthand the painful consequences of what happens when policymakers don’t vigorously protect what gives our country and our communities a competitive edge.

Concerned that lawmakers were making the same mistake with the U.S. technology industry, Doug joined AEP as Chief Executive Officer in September 2021 to spearhead AEP’s effort to protect America’s technology innovation edge.

An accomplished, values-driven executive,  Doug has spent his entire career as a relentless force for good in transforming lives at the national, state, and local levels. He brings to AEP a deep background in politics, advocacy, technology, and organization building.

For 20 years, he served in senior leadership roles in the political sector, deeply engaged in Presidential, Gubernatorial, and other statewide campaigns. Over his career, Doug has successfully led three separate large-scale transformation efforts in technology, organization building, and fundraising.

Doug also served as President & CEO of Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky, & Indiana, the largest chapter of Make-A-Wish in the country and also founded a strategic consulting firm, Big Change Strategies, which coached executives to higher performance and developed growth and impact strategies for advocacy and nonprofit organizations.

Doug lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Linda. He has two college-aged children and a faithful pound dog named Tony, who has an endless appetite for chew toys and trail running.