A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Ending Spending Action Fund


Political leaningsFiscally conservative

Spending targetUnknown

Ending Spending Action Fund was formed in 2010 alongside its affiliated nonprofit, Ending Spending Inc. Originally, the group was called Taxpayers Against Earmarks, and it advocated against congressional earmarks. In 2011, it changed its name and expanded its focus to include the nation’s overall fiscal outlook. Ending Spending Action Fund says that it “supports candidates regardless of party affiliation who favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government, and balancing our nation’s budget” and that it “strongly oppose[s] those who do not.”

The group was founded by its chairman, Joe Ricketts, a businessman who also founded TD Ameritrade and whose family owns the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise. Ricketts says that he has been both a Democrat and a Republican, but is now registered as an independent, and “probably will be that way for the rest of my life.”

The Ending Spending Action Fund is registered with the Federal Election Commission and reports its donors and expenditures. As one of the so-called super PACs, the fund is allowed to raise money of unlimited amounts. Ending Spending Inc. does not disclose its donors, and its money goes only toward electioneering expenses.

For the 2014 elections, the PAC had spent nearly $7.4 million on independent expenditures as of late September. The biggest chunk of that — nearly $2.4 million – has been spent against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who is running against Republican Terri Lynn Land for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan.

The PAC also had spent $1.6 million against Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Senate nominee in Georgia who faces Republican David Perdue in November. In the Republican Senate primary in Georgia, Ending Spending Action Fund spent nearly $1.2 million to help defeat Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey. The PAC also has been active in the New Hampshire Senate race, having spent $1.2 million against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In addition, Ending Spending Inc., the nonprofit, has spent nearly $178,000 on the 2014 elections so far, including $75,747 against Shaheen. She will face former Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown. In December 2013, Ending Spending Action Fund released an ad attacking Shaheen for her stance on the Affordable Care Act. Ending Spending also spent $59,069 on ads supporting Republican Bradley Byrne’s successful primary bid in the 2013 special election for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, and $43,144 campaigning against his tea party opponent, Dean Young.

In September 2013, the PAC spent $200,000 on the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election campaigning against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who ultimately defeated Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Ending Spending Action Fund spent $13,250,766 on the 2012 elections, including more than $5 million campaigning against President Obama, nearly $5 million supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, more than $850,000 supporting Republican Deb Fischer’s successful bid for a Nebraska Senate seat, and more than $650,000 campaigning against her opponent, former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey.

For the 2012 elections, most of the PAC’s contributions — approximately $12.2 million of the $14 million it raised — came from Joe Ricketts himself, through his holding company. Other large contributions included $575,000 each from billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. Additionally, the PAC received about $194,000 in in-kind contributions from Ending Spending Inc.

In 2010, the PAC also received almost all of its funds — only $1.18 million in that election cycle — from Ricketts, who contributed $1.16 million to the PAC, which also received $20,672 from the former Taxpayers Against Earmarks group. It spent about $1.15 million running radio and television ads for or against just four candidates for office in 2010, nearly all of it against Democrats. The vast majority of that total — more than $860,000 — was spent opposing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who defeated Republican Sharron Angle.

Fact-checking Ending Spending Action Fund:

Scandalous Ad in New Hampshire Race, Aug. 28

‘Jackpot’ Ad Is a Loser, Sept. 25