Political leanings: Democratic
2020 total spending: $372 million
The Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC that describes its “one mission” as helping Democrats “win Senate races.”
The super PAC is headed by J.B. Poersch, a former director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Poersch was named the super PAC’s president in early 2017. Its other senior advisers include co-founders Susan McCue and Rebecca Lambe, who were political aides to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
As a super PAC, the Senate Majority PAC is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts, but it must report expenditures and all donations of more than $200 to the Federal Election Commission. The super PAC cannot make contributions to candidate committees and cannot coordinate independent expenditures with candidate campaigns.
In the 2020 election cycle, the Senate Majority PAC raised and spent more than $372 million, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by OpenSecrets. Its spending included nearly $230 million on independent expenditures, which the FEC defines as spending on advertising that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a federal candidate.
During the 2020 election cycle, the committee’s biggest individual contributor was hedge fund billionaire James Simons, who gave $10.5 million. Simons founded the investment firm Renaissance Technologies and was chairman of its board until his retirement in January 2021.
Other major donors during the 2020 cycle included Fred Eychaner, a retired media executive, who gave $9 million; hedge fund executive S. Donald Sussman, who contributed $5 million; and Henry Laufer, a former chief scientist and vice president of research for Renaissance Technologies, who donated more than $2 million.
Senate Majority PAC is affiliated with Majority Forward, a 501(c)(4) organization that does not have to disclose its donors. During the 2020 campaign, Majority Forward contributed more than $51.3 million to the Senate Majority PAC.
The super PAC spent more than $150 million of its independent expenditures against Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Martha McSally of Arizona and David Perdue of Georgia. All six incumbents were in tight races with control of the Senate at stake. Perdue and McSally lost, helping to give the Democrats control over the Senate (with assists from two independents who caucus with the Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris, who, as Senate president, can vote to break any ties in the Senate).
In addition, the super PAC spent $34 million against Republican John James, who failed in his bid to defeat Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan.
On Oct. 19, 2021, the Senate Majority PAC ran its first TV ad of the 2022 campaign. The ad, in support of Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, accused Republican candidate Adam Laxalt of opposing the expanded child tax credit for working parents and lower prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare — provisions that, at the time, were being debated as part of a reconciliation bill that Laxalt had said he opposes.
As of May 31, the super PAC had raised over $98 million this election cycle, and spent roughly $45 million, including more than $4 million on independent expenditures. It has reported spending nearly $3 million so far to defeat Sen. Ron Johnson, a vulnerable Republican from Wisconsin who has been criticized for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
FactCheck.org Undergraduate Fellow Sydney Nixon contributed to this article.
Fact-checking Senate Majority PAC Action:
TV Ads About Cheri Beasley’s Record on Violent Crime Lack Context, May 26