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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Senate Leadership Fund

Political leanings: Conservative/Republican

2018 total spending: $127 million 

The Senate Leadership Fund is a Republican super PAC that was established in 2015 by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The group says its purpose is to “protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.” Its president and CEO is Steven Law, who served as McConnell’s chief of staff from 1991 to 1997. Law also serves as the president and CEO of American Crossroads, another Republican super PAC. From 1998 to 2000, Law served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

As a super PAC, the group can accept unlimited contributions, but it must disclose its donors and cannot coordinate with campaign committees or campaigns on its independent expenditures.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the Senate Leadership Fund has raised nearly $167 million in the 2020 election cycle, as of Aug. 31. Through Oct. 16, the fund has spent $165 million on independent expenditures — a term the FEC uses for advertising that “expressly advocates” for the election or defeat of a specific candidate.

The group’s two top donors in 2020 are Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who combined have contributed $50 million. Other large donors include Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the investment firm Blackstone, and Timothy Mellon, chairman of transportation company Pan Am Systems. Schwarzman and Mellon each donated $20 million.

The group has spent most of its money in four states where Republican incumbents face tough reelections. As of Oct. 16, it has spent about $110 million to defend seats held by Sens. Thom Tillis in North Carolina ($34 million), David Perdue in Georgia ($32 million), Joni Ernst in Iowa ($23 million) and Steve Daines in Montana ($19 million).

The Senate Leadership Fund spent about $127 million during the 2018 campaign season, including $95 million on independent expenditures.

The group notably spent more than $6.5 million in the December 2017 special Senate election in Alabama, supporting candidate Luther Strange over Roy Moore in the Republican primary. After the primary, the group endorsed Moore after his victory, but did not spend any money supporting him in the Dec. 12 general election. Moore lost in that general election to Democrat Doug Jones.

Notable donors in 2018 included the Adelsons, and the Karl Rove-affiliated One Nation group. One Nation gave $18.6 million to the GOP group, while the Adelsons combined to give $50 million. Other significant donors included Marcus and private equity manager Stephen Schwarzman.

FactCheck.org Undergraduate Fellow Chelsey Zhu contributed to this article.