A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Congressional Leadership Fund


playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Republican

Spending target: Unknown

The Congressional Leadership Fund‘s sole purpose is to help maintain and expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The super PAC was formed in October 2011 as the conservative counter to the liberal House Majority PAC. As an independent-expenditure-only committee, CLF advocates for the election or defeat of federal candidates without coordinating with candidates, campaigns or political parties.

The group released its first ads of the 2014 cycle in March 2013, targeting freshman Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Joe Garcia, both Democrats, for voting against Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2014 budget proposal. The identical ads were part of a low four-figure cable and digital marketing campaign aimed at female voters, according to the Huffington Post. “We balance our budget. Why won’t Sean Patrick Maloney balance his?” one of the ads asked.

CLF’s chairman is Norm Coleman, a former U.S. senator for Minnesota and chairman of the conservative American Action Network. Its other board members and officers include AAN founder Fred Malek, AAN President Brian Walsh, and former Republican U.S. Reps. Tom Reynolds and Vin Weber. The PAC also has the backing of House Speaker John Boehner, who spoke at its inaugural event in 2011 and has helped with fundraising.

The group raised almost $11.3 million in 2012 and spent more than $9.4 million opposing 14 Democratic House candidates. Eight of the targeted candidates went on to lose their races, including former Ohio Rep. Betty Sue Sutton. The fund spent more than $2.7 million against Sutton — the most it spent opposing any candidate — who lost to Rep. Jim Renacci.

CLF’s largest individual donors in 2012 were casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. The couple — longtime Republican backers — contributed $5 million to the group. The late Bob Perry, a Texas developer, gave $1 million. Engineer and entrepreneur Edmund O. Schweitzer III added $300,000, and Donald Trump chipped in $100,000. Chevron Corp. donated $2.5 million to the group as well.

The group collected more than $1 million in 2013, according to its January 2014 filing with the Federal Election Commission. One of its largest donations — $125,000 —  came from John W. Childs, the CEO and founder of private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates.