Spending target: Unknown
Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the conservative Club for Growth, formed in August 2010. It was created after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, and it can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations. On its website, the organization declares it is “dedicated to a single mission: beating big government politicians” of both parties.
The group targets mostly Republicans in primaries and Democrats in general elections. In the 2012 cycle, it spent $16.6 million on ads — with almost $5 million going to help defeat Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the state’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate.
As of June 16, Club for Growth Action has raised more than $5.5 million and spent almost $5.4 million on independent expenditures in the 2014 election cycle. Over $731,000 has been spent trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who is being challenged by Republican Rep. Tom Cotton. The group, which has endorsed Cotton, aired TV ads attacking Pryor for voting against “defunding Obamacare” and for supporting “trillions in debt, including wasting our money on Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere.” (FactCheck.org wrote about the second ad.) In Republican primaries, Club for Growth Action has spent nearly $3.1 million to help Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a tea party challenger to GOP Sen. Thad Cochran. And it spent nearly $500,000 to defeat Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who ended up beating attorney Bryan Smith with 62 percent of the vote.
Barney Keller, a spokesman for the super PAC, declined to state how much the group hoped to raise and spend in total this cycle. He told us the group would raise and spend “as much as we need to in order to be effective.” Most of the super PAC’s money comes from wealthy Republican donors, though it does receive a small portion of its funding from Club for Growth.
Its largest donor in 2012 was Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, who gave three separate donations totaling $2 million. In that election cycle, Thiel was the ninth largest individual donor to outside spending groups — contributing an additional $2.7 million to Endorse Liberty and Revolution PAC, two libertarian groups.
Other top donors include investing guru Robert Arnott of Newport, Calif., and private equity investor John Childs. Arnott, the founder and chairman of Research Affiliates, donated $750,000 in the 2012 cycle and has given $250,000 for 2014. Childs, the chairman and CEO of the Boston-based J.W. Childs Associates, contributed more than $1.1 million in 2012 and $100,000, so far, in 2014.
Richard Gaby, a Georgia real estate mogul, contributed $200,000 to Club for Growth Action in 2012, as well. Gaby and his wife, Barbara Van Andel-Gaby, who serves on the board of the conservative Heritage Foundation, have donated more than $1.6 million to conservative groups and Republican parties and candidates since 2009.
Fact-checking Club for Growth Action:
Arkansas Race Off to Misleading Start, Aug. 9, 2013