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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

America Leads

pg16insertPolitical Leanings: Republican/Pro-Chris Christie Super PAC

Spending Target: Unknown

America Leads is a super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate and current New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. It was formed in February 2015 by Phil Cox, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

Cox is a veteran of Virginia politics and was the campaign manager for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009. Cox is also senior adviser for Leadership Matters for America, a political action committee formed by Christie in January 2015. Cox and Paige Hahn, a former finance director for the RGA and founder of the fundraising firm Hahn Group, Inc., act as co-directors of America Leads. And Meredith O’Rourke, a prominent GOP fundraiser in Florida and formerly Gov. Rick Scott’s finance director, serves as a fundraising consultant.

As a super PAC, America Leads may raise unlimited amounts of money, but must disclose the sources of its campaign contributions to the Federal Election Commission. The group reported raising more than $11 million, according to its mid-year filing with the FEC in July.

Its largest donation to date — $1 million — came from the Nevada ranch Winecup-Gamble, Inc. Former Reebok chief executive Paul Fireman, who controls Winecup-Gamble, primarily supported Democrats for decades, but has mostly supported Republicans since December 2011, when he donated $250,000 to a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC.  

Other major contributors to America Leads include Connecticut hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen and his wife, Alexandra, who gave $1 million each. And Quicken Loans founder Daniel Gilbert, whose company has a typically right-leaning PAC, contributed $750,000.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that America Leads has so far spent almost $14 million on independent expenditures and other communication costs in support of Christie’s candidacy. That includes a TV ad the super PAC aired in New Hampshire — which we wrote about — that featured Christie falsely claiming that “30 percent of the people” President Obama has released from the Guantanamo Bay military prison “have gone back in the terrorism business.”

Fact-checking America Leads:

Christie PAC Wrong About Gitmo, Jan. 5