Political leanings: Conservative
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 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 the general election. It spent about $5 million in the 2010 campaign, and four of every five dollars went to attack Democrats — mostly to help unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania. In the 2012 campaign, it spent $1.45 million on TV and radio ads to defeat six-term Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar in a GOP primary.
The super PAC receives some funding from Club for Growth, but it gets most of its money from wealthy Republican donors. Its largest single donation came from investor Virginia James of New Jersey. James has given $1.35 million to Club for Growth Action since it was formed — including a $1 million donation in January 2012. That single contribution placed her among the top donors to outside political groups for this election.
Barbara Van Andel-Gaby, who serves on the board of the conservative Heritage Foundation, and her husband, Richard Gaby, a Georgia real estate mogul, have donated nearly $1 million to conservative groups and Republican parties and candidates in the last two election cycles. That includes Richard Gaby’s $300,000 contributions to Club for Growth Action in 2010 and 2012.
Other top donors include investing guru Richard Arnott of Newport, Calif., and private equity investor John Childs. Arnott, the founder and chairman of Research Affiliates, made two separate $250,000 donations (in 2011 and another in 2012). He also has donated $250,000 to Our Destiny, a pro-Jon Huntsman super PAC. Childs, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Boston-based J.W. Childs Associates, has contributed $725,000 to the group in 2010 and 2011, and $1 million in 2012.
In February, Sen. Jim DeMint’s campaign committee donated $500,000 to Club for Growth Action — which has spent most of its money this cycle seeking to defeat Republicans it deems not sufficiently conservative. DeMint’s spokesman told Politico that the conservative South Carolina senator “strongly supports several of the candidates the Club for Growth is backing this year and this contribution will help the club push them on to victory.”
Club for Growth Action has spent almost $9 million so far in the 2012 primary season — mostly on TV ads targeting Republicans for defeat in primaries. The group aired TV ads attacking “liberal” Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for the Senate, and Rep. Fred Upton, a 12-term Michigan congressman who is seeking reelection. It also has launched a campaign targeting former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican who is running for Senate. In Nebraska’s Republican Senate primary, the group aired TV ads attacking state Attorney General Jon Bruning.
Barney Keller, a spokesman for the super PAC, declined to say how much the super PAC hopes to raise and spend this campaign cycle. In 2010, Club for Growth Action spent about $5 million — including nearly $2.7 million to help defeat Pennsylvania Sen. Joe Sestak, who lost to Pat Toomey, a former president of Club for Growth.