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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Americas PAC

Political leanings: Republican/Conservative

Spending target: Undisclosed

Americas PAC has traditionally specialized in making independent expenditures attempting to convince black and Hispanic voters to support Republican candidates, but the PAC says it is widening its net.

Americas PAC declares on its website: “With large percentages of minority voters supporting marriage, lower taxes, school choice and pro-life positions but voting Democratic, our goal is to ask for their vote without compromising our conservative views.”

The PAC spends mostly on targeted radio ads and social media. In 2016 it sponsored a Spanish-language radio ad asking (in translation): “Does [Democratic Senate candidate] Catherine Cortez Masto [of Nevada] care that 3 out of 5 babies aborted in America are black and Hispanic?… I have a question for Catherine Cortez Masto: Why should I vote for you if you don’t even care about our babies?”

And in 2014, it ran a radio ad on Wisconsin stations with large black audiences urging listeners to turn out to support Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s reelection bid. A female narrator said, “Democrats ask for our votes every election. But why do we vote for a party that wants our votes but not our babies?”

In the 2016 election cycle, the PAC reported raising and spending just under $2 million, of which $1.9 million was donated by Republican donor Richard Uihlein, CEO of Uline Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of shipping, packaging and industrial supplies.

In 2018, the PAC and Uihlein are thinking bigger. As of March 31, 2018, the PAC had already reported raising more than $5 million, all of it from Uihlein (either directly or transferred from another PAC, Solutions for Wisconsin, exclusively financed by Uihlein.)

The PAC’s first 2018 target is Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. It reported spending more than $700,000 directly opposing her reelection, and $2.6 million supporting GOP hopeful Kevin Nicholson in the Aug. 14 Republican primary to choose her general election opponent.

Another early target is Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The PAC reported spending more than $500,000, as of June 5, to oppose Manchin’s reelection.

It also reported spending nearly $695,000 supporting Republican Matt Rosendale as the GOP nominee to run against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in Montana. Rosendale, the state auditor, won the June 5 GOP Senate primary.

Americas PAC was established in 2003 by Kansas Republican activist Richard Nadler as a “dark money” political committee organized under Section 527 of the IRS code. As such, it was allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts for independent expenditures from any U.S. source without disclosing the identity of its givers.

After Nadler’s death in 2009, control passed to its longtime political consultant, Tom Donelson, who runs it from a two-story house in Marion, Iowa. He registered it with the Federal Election Commission as a super PAC in 2014, and has since filed regular disclosures of its donations and expenditures.

When we contacted Donelson, he declined to say how much he hoped to raise and spend in 2018. But he did share that the PAC is now looking beyond targeting minority voters.

“[W]e have expanded from our minority outreach to include other aspects of the Democratic base including single white women, as well as independents and blue collar workers, what we call ‘Trump Republicans,'” he told us via email. “We also target Republicans to ensure the whole base comes out.”

In addition to the Senate races in West Virginia, Montana and Wisconsin, the PAC has what Donelson called a “wish list” of other contests, including House races, depending on fundraising.