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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Concerned Women for America

Political leanings: Conservative

Spending target: Unknown

Concerned Women for America is a 501(c)(3) public policy women’s organization that promotes biblical principles. The group was launched in the late 1970s by Beverly LaHaye, who still serves as chair, as a counter to Betty Friedan’s National Organization for Women. CWA created “Prayer/Action Chapters” and opposed the Equal Rights Amendment both with television ads and weekly prayer and fasting groups.

Since its early days, CWA has been involved in legal cases and legislative battles that fall under its core issues of abortion, heterosexual marriage, education, pornography, religious freedom and national sovereignty — which CWA explains is a belief that other organizations, such as the United Nations, shouldn’t have a say in what the United States does, and that the U.S. “has the right and duty to protect and secure our national borders.” CWA says its mission is “to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens — first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society — thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.” The CEO and president is Penny Young Nance, who previously advised the Federal Communications Commission on media and social issues, mainly concerning children.

Nance is also CEO of the group’s legislative action committee and its political action committee. In 2011, the Concerned Women for America-Legislative Action Committee — a 501(c)(4), which doesn’t have to disclose its donors — delved into the debt-ceiling debate, running a TV spot that targeted Democratic senators. The ad, a $1.15 million buy, was a satirical pitch for the fake drug “Spenditol,” a “cure” for high prices and unemployment. Besides the joke, the ad included false and misleading claims.

The CWA’s political action committee, which is registered with the Federal Election Commission, does disclose its donors. The PAC raised $247,404 in the 2010 election cycle and spent $278,177, a large chunk of which went to the CWA Legislative Action Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. For the 2012 cycle, the PAC has raised $179,900, as of June 30, and has spent $188,400, more than one quarter of which went to the LAC.

CWA spent $206,924 on lobbying in 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It spent $154,559 in 2010. A spokesperson for the LAC and PAC told us those groups spent about $350,000 overall in that cycle and did not have a specific goal for 2012.

Update, July 25: We updated this item to reflect campaign finance data through June 30, 2012.