A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Patriot Majority USA/Patriot Majority PAC

playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Democratic/liberal

Spending target: Unknown

Democratic political strategist Craig Varoga founded Patriot Majority in December 2005 under the name “America Back on Track,” a political organization formed under Section 527 of the IRS code. The name was changed twice within months of its forming — first to Patriot Majority Fund and then simply to Patriot Majority. Varoga has formed several related political organizations over the years — including Patriot Majority PAC in 2009 and Patriot Majority USA in 2011.

Varoga, who is the president of Patriot Majority, runs a political consulting firm, Varoga & Associates, and serves as chief strategist for Senate Majority PAC. His resume also includes managing former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s presidential campaign in the 2008 election, and serving as chief strategist in 2010 for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s re-election campaign.

At its inception, Patriot Majority was involved in the 2006 Massachusetts governor’s race. Its first contribution was $50,000 in June 2006 from 1199 SEIU Political Action Fund, and the Patriot Majority groups have been heavily funded by labor unions ever since.

In 2012, the 527 group spent its money on state races. It reported to the IRS that it spent a total of nearly $1.5 million in 2012, including nearly $600,000 on TV ads and more than $400,000 on media mailings. The group told the IRS it “ran media and mail programs focusing on legislative races in New Mexico.” The group received about $1 million from three unions: the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees ($450,000), the National Education Association Advocacy Fund ($398,500), and the American Federation of Teachers COPE ($150,000), a post-election report shows.

On the federal level, the group has been active through two organizations: Patriot Majority PAC, a super PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission in 2009, and Patriot Majority USA, a 501(c)4 registered with the IRS in 2011.

Patriot Majority USA, which is not legally required to disclose its donors, has become the group’s primary vehicle for campaign spending in federal races. It spent $7.5 million on independent expenditures in the 2012 elections, according to an FEC independent expenditure report. The money was used to oppose eight Republican congressional candidates, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly $3.5 million went toward unseating a single Republican, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. Heller narrowly won re-election with just 46 percent of the vote.

Patriot Majority PAC spent a little under $405,000 in the 2012 elections, down from $1.2 million in the 2010 midterms. All of the super PAC’s money in 2012 was used to oppose Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Most of its money came from labor unions, including $100,000 or more from the International Association of Fire Fighters, United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and the Service Employees International Union, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So far during the 2014 campaign cycle, Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $7 million opposing four Republican Senate candidates and three Republican House candidates. The group has spent money to oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and three GOP challengers to incumbent Democrats. It has spent $3 million against Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who is running against Sen. Mark Pryor; $1.6 million against Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is running against Sen. Kay Hagan; and $2 million against Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who is running against Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Patriot Majority PAC, so far, has been far less active. The super PAC raised only $65,250 through June, and spent nothing on independent expenditures, according to the Center for Responsive Politics summary of campaign data. Its money continues to come from unions. The super PAC received $16,250, each, in 2013 from AFSCME, NEA Advocacy Fund, SEIU Committee on Political Education and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Fact-checking Patriot Majority USA/Patriot Majority PAC:

Democratic Assault on Cassidy’s Record, Sept. 3, 2014

More Weak Claims on Cotton’s Insurance Ties, April 17, 2014

It’s Groundhog Day for Fact-Checkers, Jun. 28, 2013

Cherry-Picking McConnell’s Pay Raise Votes, Jun. 21, 2013