Political leanings: Republican/Pro-growth
Spending target: $5 million
The Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity was created on March 31, 2010, by a Republican media consultant and a GOP lawyer and former lobbyist. It says on its website that it favors "sustained economic expansion" and will underwrite economic research in addition to communicating with the public "through all forms of mass communication, including, but not limited to, print advertising, cable television and radio messaging, as well as e-mail and direct mail communications."
According to the Form 1024 that it filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the president and executive director of CHGO is Steve Powell, a media consultant based in Vista, Calif., who has worked for Republican candidates, corporations and conservative causes. The group’s general counsel is William B. Canfield, a one-time lawyer for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who was until last year a registered lobbyist with the firm of Williams and Jensen. Some news reports credit GOP consultant Scott Reed with founding the organization. Reed was quoted by the Center for Public Integrity as saying that the group’s "big three" donors are "the financial services industry, the energy industry, and the health insurance industry."
CHGO told the IRS it would solicit donations from "American citizens, business entities and labor organizations" that support its goals. It listed a "proposed budget" of $5 million for 2010, and budgets of $7.5 million for 2011 and $10 million for 2012. Reed was quoted as saying the group hoped to raise $25 million and had already raised half that by mid-September. When we contacted Canfield, he declined to say how much the organization had raised or to say anything about the group’s financial supporters.
Unlike many similar groups, CHGO does not post its TV ads on the Internet. In late September, however, it began airing TV spots attacking Democratic lawmakers and urging support for their Republican opponents. By mid-October the Campaign Media Analysis Group (a unit of Kantar Media) had picked up at least 10 such spots in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania. An ad that first appeared Oct. 15 attacked Democratic Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger of Maryland for voting for "the Pelosi agenda an astounding 98 percent of the time," and saying that his GOP challenger "Marcello Cardarelli has a better idea."
The CHGO leans heavily Republican, but not totally so. On Oct. 13, it started running one TV spot in Idaho praising Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick — a conservative Democrat who voted against the stimulus bill, the health care overhaul and the cap-and-trade legislation.