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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Patriot Majority USA

Political leanings: Democratic/Liberal

Spending target: Not Stated

Patriot Majority USA was founded in 2005 by Democratic political strategist Craig Varoga, who managed former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s presidential campaign in the 2008 election and was national field director for Gen. Wesley Clark’s 2004 campaign. Varoga is also the group’s president.

The 501(c)(4) organization focuses on economic issues, and, according to an e-mail Varoga sent to us, it “has a multi-year plan to promote policies at the local, state and federal levels that create jobs and help develop the American economy.” Its website also says that the organization “endorses the patriotic observation of President Theodore Roosevelt, who noted, ‘A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy.’ ”

Patriot Majority also has a 527 organization, and it spent nearly $4 million in the 2010 election cycle and $8 million in 2008, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. It has received a lot of its donations from unions, including a total of $5.8 million in 2008 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME gave $500,000 in 2010, when top donors also included the Service Employees International Union and the advocacy group America Votes. The 527 has been much less active in 2011. A midyear report filed with the IRS said the organization spent $20,342 and received only $1,470 for the first half of 2011.

Varoga said the group would not discuss its fundraising goals for the 2012 cycle, and the 501(c)(4) does not have to disclose its donors. The website says that in 2011, the group will “oppose fiscal policies that would end Medicare as we know it and destabilize America’s economic recovery.” And in July, the group spent $150,000 to air two ads that distorted a Republican House plan to change Medicare. The TV spots were aimed at countering messages from the conservative Crossroads GPS.

There’s also a Patriot Majority political action committee, which was launched in October 2009 and spent $3.3 million in the 2010 election, again with the help of AFSCME money. Contributions also came from the SEIU Committee on Political Education, VoteVets.org Action Fund and MGM Resorts International. The PAC spent nearly $1.9 million advocating against Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle in Nevada. For the first half of 2011, the PAC reported to the Federal Election Commission that it had received just $10,000 from the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.