Political leanings: Democratic
2018 total spending: $14.2 million
VoteVets.org is a political group that supports veterans and promotes liberal causes. Its mission is “to elect Veterans to public office,” and its agenda includes “working with progressive allies representing labor, immigration, gay and lesbian rights, and environmentalists, when their issues coincide with the needs of troops and veterans.”
It operates two political committees: the VoteVets PAC and the VoteVets Action Fund.
The VoteVets PAC is a Carey committee, a hybrid organization that functions as a PAC and a super PAC. Like a traditional PAC, the committee can give money directly to a campaign. However, like a super PAC, it can also raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for independent expenditures, which are funds spent on advertisements or other communications in order to elect or defeat specific candidates.
The VoteVets Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, a “social welfare organization” that must spend less than 50% of its funds for political purposes. It does not disclose its donors, but it must report its independent expenditures to the Federal Election Commission.
VoteVets states it has raised and spent more than $120 million since its inception in 2006, with $50 million going to television and radio ads.
The chairman of the organization is Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran who also runs the Vet Voice Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit. Its treasurer is Rick Hegdahl, who is also the program director for the Vet Voice Foundation.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the VoteVets PAC has spent $11.6 million in independent expenditures so far in the 2020 election cycle. Much of the spending — $4.3 million — has gone toward Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham in the North Carolina Senate race against incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis. The PAC has also spent $3.6 million in support of then-Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, an Afghanistan veteran who dropped out on March 1. The PAC also spent $3.5 million supporting MJ Hegar, who is challenging Republican Sen. John Cornyn for his seat in Texas.
VoteVets has raised $13.7 million through March 31, according to FEC records. Much of that money came from the Senate Majority PAC, which has contributed nearly $8 million to VoteVets.
The VoteVets Action Fund spent $226,882 in independent expenditures in 2019. The funds were used exclusively to advocate for Democratic candidate Dan McCready and against Rep. Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th District special election. McCready ultimately lost the election.
In the 2018 election cycle, the VoteVets PAC spent nearly $11 million in independent expenditures, using about $7 million to advocate against Republican candidates; $3.9 million alone went toward a TV ad campaign against Sen. Rick Scott in the Florida Senate race, which Scott won.
The PAC’s top three donors in 2018 were the Senate Majority PAC, the House Majority PAC and Bloomberg L.P. The organizations contributed $4.5 million, $2.2 million and $1.5 million, respectively. VoteVets received $12.3 million in contributions overall.
The VoteVets Action Fund spent around $2 million on the 2018 elections, using $1.2 million to advertise against Republican candidates. It spent the largest sum, a little over $500,000, in opposition to incumbent Bruce Poliquin, who lost Maine’s 2nd District House race to Rep. Jared Golden. All three candidates the action fund opposed lost their races.