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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 most recent Federal Election Commission data available, the Senate Leadership Fund has raised a little over $43 million in the 2020 election cycle, and spent $8.4 million, including about $1.6 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 largest donors in 2020 include Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the investment firm Blackstone, and Timothy Mellon, chairman of transportation company Pan Am Systems. Schwarzman donated $10 million and Mellon 2.5 million, while Singer donated $2 million.

The group has used most of its independent expenditures to support five Republican incumbents, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and three senators in vulnerable states. It also spent nearly $150,000 opposing the presidential candidacy of Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Bullock dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 2. Some senior Democratic officials tried to convince Bullock to run for the Senate against incumbent Republican Steve Daines, but Bullock declined.

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 Las Vegas-based billionaire Sheldon Adelson, his wife philanthropist Miriam Adelson, 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. Undergraduate Fellow Chelsey Zhu contributed to this article.