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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Club for Growth Action

Political leanings: Conservative

2018 total spending: $19.6 million

Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the conservative Club for Growthwas launched in August 2010. On its website, the organization declares its mission is to “take on any Member of Congress on policy who fails to uphold basic economic conservative principles … regardless of party.”

The PAC targets some Republican incumbents in primary elections in order to replace them with “pro-growth, limited government conservatives.” Club for Growth Action states on its website that it has been “instrumental” in helping to elect conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

As of Feb. 29, the group had raised nearly $19 million in the 2020 election cycle.

Its independent expenditures — spending for or against identified candidates, without coordination with candidates or parties — totaled nearly $6 million as of April 17. Club for Growth Action spent more than $1.1 million in a failed attempt to defeat Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas in the party’s primary in March.

The PAC also spent heavily in Alabama Republican primaries. It spent nearly $740,000 to oppose Jerry Carl and $147,000 to support his opponent, Bill Hightower, in the Republican primary for an open seat in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

Rep. Bradley Byrne, who currently represents the Alabama’s 1st district, lost his bid for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination. Club for Growth Action spent nearly $700,000 against Byrne.

Both the House and Senate primaries are headed for July 14 runoff elections. Carl and Hightower will face off in the House race, while former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions will oppose former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in a bid to regain his old U.S. Senate seat. Club for Growth Action supports Tuberville.

The PAC has not been involved much yet in the presidential campaign, spending only $86,000 to oppose the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

As for its contributions, more than half of the Club for Growth Action’s money thus far in the 2020 cycle has come from a single donor: Richard Uihlein, the chief executive officer of Uline, a shipping, packaging and industrial supplies company. Uihlein, so far, has donated $12.5 million to the PAC. Other major donors include Jeff Yass, cofounder of the financial firm Susquehanna International, and Virginia James, a conservative investor and former spouse of Club for Growth co-founder and stockbroker Richard Gilder. They have donated $2 million and $1 million to the PAC, respectively.

In the 2018 cycle, Club for Growth Action spent $19.6 million. The PAC spent $1.2 million in the Texas senatorial race against O’Rourke, who lost in his bid to unseat Cruz. The group also spent more than $1.1 million to defeat Republican candidate Russell “Russ” Fagg in the Montana Senate Republican primary.

The PAC also focused on special House elections in Georgia and Pennsylvania. During the last election cycle, the group found itself at odds in the Georgia House race with a pro-Trump group called 45Committee. Club for Growth Action endorsed Republican Bob Gray — one of 18 candidates, including 11 Republicans, running in what was known as a “jungle primary.”

45Committee ran TV ads opposing Gray, claiming voters could not “trust him” because he “stands with the Club for Growth.” Gray did not survive the primary. Karen Handel, a Republican, won the special election in a runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

A large chunk of the PAC’s money in the 2018 election cycle came from Uihlein, who has donated to Club for Growth Action since 2010. Uihlein gave the PAC $6.7 million. Yass gave the PAC a little over $3.8 million. Yass also serves on the board of directors at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

In the 2016 cycle, Club for Growth Action spent a little over $20 million. On the presidential election alone, the group spent nearly $8 million — including more than $7 million against Donald Trump during the Republican primary. The group, for example, accused Trump in TV ads of supporting higher taxes. Once in office, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced individual and corporate income tax rates, among other things. (See our story, “A Guide to the Tax Changes.”) Undergraduate Fellow Isabella Fertel contributed to this article.