Conservative Groups Outpaced in Fund-Raising Stakes

January 31, 2014

A network of outside groups with close ties to Republican Party leaders raised just $7.2 million last year, group spokesmen said on Friday, suggesting some top donors remain on the sidelines as the 2014 campaign season begins.

Two of the groups — American Crossroads, a “super PAC,” and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit advocacy organization — spent more than $300 million during the 2012 election campaign, efforts that failed to unseat President Obama or enable Republicans to win back the Senate. A third group, the Conservative Victory Project, a spinoff intended to help influence Republican primary elections, raised no money beyond a transfer from one of the other groups.

By contrast, the Senate Majority PAC and the House Majority PAC, groups established to help Democrats maintain control of the Senate and make gains in the House of Representatives, raised a combined $10 million, far exceeding their pace in 2011.

“House Majority PAC’s record fund-raising shows not only the level of disgust with this reckless Republican House,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the group, “but also that Democrats are prepared to fight back” against “big-spending right-wing groups.”

Because none of the groups existed before 2010 — when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision paved the way for the creation of super PACs — there can be no precise comparison with the midterm elections in 2010, when conservative groups heavily outspent liberal ones and helped Republicans win the House. The two Crossroads groups raised and spent about $70 million during the 2010 campaign, but most of it came in the final months.

Moreover, some candidates in this year’s Senate races — particularly Republicans — are being aided by a profusion of smaller super PACs targeting one or two races, making it more difficult to track the total being spent. In North Carolina, Grow NC Strong, a super PAC backing Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for the Senate, reported raising $159,000 for the year. Put Alaska First, which is supporting Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, reported raising $287,500 for the year.

The two Crossroads groups raised $6.2 million last year, an official said. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC focused on Republican House races, reported raising $1.1 million for the year, according to a spokesman, but that figure does not include money raised by an affiliated nonprofit group, the American Action Network.

Jonathan Collegio, a Crossroads spokesman, said the group had pledges for future donations that would keep overall fund-raising in line with previous cycles. “We are increasingly enthusiastic about prospects for winning a majority in the Senate and holding the majority in the House,” he said.

The Crossroads fund-raising figures were first reported Friday by Politico.

Earlier this week, Republican-oriented outside groups announced a joint $1.2 million advertising campaign in a special election for a Florida House seat.