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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Conservative

Spending target: Unknown

The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund is a super PAC formed in January 2013 with the goal of supporting “true” conservatives in primaries and general elections, and pushing the Republican Party further right. Its parent group has publicly attacked both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell as members of Washington’s “ruling elite.”

The parent Tea Party Patriots group has criticized Boehner and is gathering signatures in a “fire the Speaker” petition drive, and Martin attacked the October budget deal supported by McConnell as “a complete sellout.”

As of April 30, the fund reported having raised nearly $9 million, of which $6.6 million came in unitemized donations of less than $200. It had made no donations as of that date to any political candidates, but it had spent more than $1 million in independent expenditures. Most of that was spent against Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and in support of Cochran’s GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. McDaniel forced Cochran into a runoff election that will be held June 24.

The super PAC also spent $7.9 million in fundraising costs and other “operating expenditures,” including $15,000 in regular monthly payments, from July 2013 to February 2014, to its chairman, Jennifer “Jenny Beth” Martin, the suburban Atlanta woman who is president and co-founder of the parent Tea Party Patriots group.

Despite its heavy overhead costs, the PAC had slightly more than $900,000 in cash as of April 30, and it had developed a list of regular donors on whom it could call for additional donations as the 2014 election season progresses. Its strength may lie less in money than in the ability to mobilize activists in elections. The group says it is “equipping activists across the country, making sure we have what is needed to organize friends, neighbors, and communities around a freedom agenda.”

Martin, in a statement quoted in early February by The Hill newspaper and the Washington Times, said the group was “looking for an alternative” to McConnell in Kentucky and to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. But the super PAC reported spending no money in Graham’s primary and only $56,000 in McConnell’s race. Both McConnell and Graham won their primaries easily.

The self-described “grassroots” group raised money primarily from small donors, many of whom gave in regular, recurring amounts. The largest donor is Cary Katz, the CEO of College Loan Corporation, who gave $50,000 in a single donation. The largest corporate donation came from a used-car dealership in San Antonio, which gave $5,000.

Fact-checking the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund

Twisting Cochran’s Record, May 23, 2014

The largest donor is Cary Katz, the CEO of College Load Corporation, who gave $50,000 in a single donation.