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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Senate Majority PAC

Political leanings:playersguide2014_135px Democratic

Spending target: Unknown

The Senate Majority PAC is a Democratic super PAC created to “protect and expand the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.” In 2014, 21 Democratic seats and 15 Republican seats are up for grabs. The Republicans, who now hold 45 seats, would need to pick up a net of six seats to gain control of the Senate.

As a super PAC, Senate Majority PAC is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts provided that all donations and expenditures are reported publicly. The group was created in 2010 under the name “Commonsense Ten” by Jim Jordan, a former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Monica Dixon, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore; and Democratic party operative Jeff Forbes. In 2011, Commonsense Ten changed its name to Senate Majority PAC, and Rebecca Lambe joined as a senior adviser. Lambe was the chief political strategist for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada during his 2010 reelection campaign. Reid’s former chief of staff, Susan McCue, also joined the committee. Senate Majority PAC is allied, but not formally affiliated, with Patriot Majority USA, a 501(c)(4) organization that focuses on economic issues and is led by Democratic political strategist Craig Varoga.

During the 2012 election cycle, the PAC raised more than $42 million and ranked 4th in total spending among super PACs. The largest contributions came from Fred Eychaner of Newsweb Corp.; Euclidean Capital LLC President James H. Simons; the Carpenters and Joiners Union; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees; and the Franklin L. Haney Co., a real estate investment company run by a longtime Democratic donor. As a super PAC, the group is barred from contributing directly to candidates, but it spent $3,651,229 on advertising for Democratic candidates and $33,847,028 on advertising against Republican candidates. It spent the most money opposing Republican election bids in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana and North Dakota.

As of August, Senate Majority PAC had raised more than $34 million for the 2014 campaign cycle and for 2013 special elections. It had spent more than $27 million on independent expenditures. The PAC had spent the most, by far, in the North Carolina Senate race, where it had spent more than $8.4 million supporting Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and opposing Republican Thom Tillis. The Senate Majority PAC also had spent nearly $2.3 million opposing Rep. Bill Cassidy’s attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and more than $845,000 opposing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s reelection bid in Kentucky. It spent more than $1 million opposing Republican candidates in both the Arkansas and Colorado Senate races and more than $2.2 million in the Michigan Senate race.

It also had spent nearly $2 million opposing Rep. Tom Cotton’s Senate bid in Arkansas; $2.6 million opposing Rep. Cory Gardner’s Senate campaign in Colorado, and $3.4 million opposing Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land in Michigan. It has also been active in Senate races in Iowa, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

While the PAC’s $42 million in fundraising during the 2012 election cycle marked a great increase from its 2010 fundraising of $4.3 million, congressional Democrats are hoping to raise even more money for 2014. In June 2013, Congressional Democrats outlined their hope of raising $75 million for the Senate Majority PAC for the 2014 elections.

As of August, the largest contribution has come from come from San Francisco billionaire and climate-change activist Tom Steyer, who donated $5 million. Steyer also founded and finances his own politically active advocacy group, NextGen Climate Action. Other major contributors include: Newsweb Corp.’s Eychaner, who had donated $4 million, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had given $2.5 million, and Euclidean Capital’s Simons, who had contributed $2 million.

For 2014, the PAC also has been the primary source of funding for an Alaska-based super PAC supporting Sen. Mark Begich. Put Alaska First PAC had received 86 percent of its contributions ($6,028,000) from Senate Majority PAC as of August.

Fact-checking Senate Majority PAC:

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

‘Cassidycare?’ Come On! June 11, 2014

‘Outright Lies’ in Alaska? May 2, 2014

Tillis Response Ad Cries ‘False,’ April 22, 2014

Disconnecting the Dots in Arkansas, April 11, 2014

Guilt By Association in Louisiana, April 10, 2014

Senate Majority PAC Not Telling Whole Story, Jan. 17, 2014

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

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