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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Congressional Leadership Fund

Political leanings: Republican

2018 total 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.

As of Oct. 14, CLF has raised about $143 million and spent nearly $107 million, Federal Election Commission records show. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the super PAC has spent $114 million on advertising advocating for the election or defeat of specific candidates. It has spent more than $6 million to support Republican challenger Claudia Tenney’s bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, and more than $5 million to help Republican Troy Nehls win a seat held by retiring Republican Rep. Pete Olson in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District.

In 2018, CLF raised a total of $157.8 million and spent $158.7 million, amounts significantly greater than the $51 million and $50 million it raised and spent in 2016, respectively.

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.

For the 2020 campaign cycle, Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of the global investment firm Blackstone, has given $2.5 million, while Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth C. Griffin and hedge fund manager Paul Singer each have donated $1 million, FEC records show.

For the 2020 campaign cycle, Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth C. Griffin has donated $6.5 million, while Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of the global investment firm Blackstone, has given $2.5 million and hedge fund manager Paul Singer has given $2 million, FEC records show.

FactCheck.org Undergraduate Fellow Katherine Hartzell contributed to this article.