Political leanings: Republican
2018 Spending: $159 million
The Congressional Leadership Fund’s sole purpose is to win a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The super PAC was formed in October 2011 as the conservative counter to the liberal House Majority PAC and is endorsed by House Republican leadership. As an independent-expenditure-only committee, CLF advocates for the election or defeat of federal candidates without coordinating with candidates, campaigns or political parties.
Dan Conston serves as CLF’s president, as well as the president of its sister 501(c)(4), the American Action Network. Conston has managed communications for several successful Republican congressional campaigns and served as communications director for former Rep. Peter Roskam. He is president of the media consulting firm Conston Communications and a partner at the consulting firm GCG Solutions, both of which specialize in media production and project management.
The group’s vice president is Zach Hunter, who served as the regional press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2016, and more recently managed communications for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce under its former chairman, Rep. Greg Walden.
CLF released its first ads of the 2020 election cycle in January 2019. The six-figure digital ad campaign targeted freshman Democrats who CLF claims “broke their word with voters” by voting for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker of the House. Since then, CLF has launched a series of digital and TV ad campaigns targeting Democrats on various issues, such as their support of President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the Green New Deal.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, CLF is currently the 2020 cycle’s fifth largest outside spender on independent expenditures, having spent more than $2.9 million on TV ads and other forms of political communication. The super PAC spent most of it — $2.4 million — to help elect Republican Dan Bishop, who defeated Democrat Dan McCready during the September special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
CLF and AAN raised a combined $68 million in 2019, an amount the super PAC claims is an “off-year record,” according to a CLF press release. That includes $32.6 million raised by the CLF, Federal Election Commission records show.
The super PAC spent $138 million on independent expenditures in 2018, including $124 million to oppose 56 Democratic House candidates. Twenty-six of the targeted candidates went on to lose their races.
CLF’s largest individual donors in 2018 were casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. The couple — longtime Republican backers — contributed $55 million to the group, and Timothy Mellon, chairman and owner of the transportation holding company Pan Am Systems, gave $10 million.
FactCheck.org Undergraduate Fellow Katherine Hartzell contributed to this article.