The next time you hear a news story where Republicans cry poor, remember this. The RNC is irrelevant. These days, post-Citizens United, the money is staying in the control of independent organizations, all $400 million of it pledged toward the midterm elections.
Four hundred million dollars. Wow. Think Progress has an eye-opener of a report about the organizations behind the big bucks. Clearly the Republican strategy was to fragment and spread out the money across many different facets, so they could sweep in the most people/interests at once.
The Big Spenders
The US Chamber of Commerce - $75 million: Still, they've lost most of their big lobbying battles this year. In the candidate arena, they backed Scott Brown, who won. On the other hand, they backed Bill McCollum in Florida, who lost to Rick Scott last week.
On the other hand, it looks as though much of their money is going toward issue ads for the duration of the midterms.
American Crossroads - $52 million: American Crossroads is the new Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie organization, and they're using their funds to target specific Senate races. They've run ads against Harry Reid, Jack Conway and Michael Bennet, and ads in support of Rob Portman, among others. Think of them as the advance team for the NRSC.
Americans for Prosperity - $45 million: Americans for Prosperity is the Koch arm of the conservatives, and has already launched a wave of attack ads targeting House candidates. Since the ad buys went through the Americans for Prosperity foundation (ostensibly to conceal the donor source), there are some big questions about whether it violated its tax-exempt status, despite AFP's claim that they're "issue ads". Democrats have asked the IRS to investigate whether they've crossed the line into active electioneering. And of course, they stoke the fire under the teabaggers.
Republican State Leadership Committee - $40 million: This group is headed by Norm Coleman and is affiliated with the American Action Network - $25 million. Board members include Coleman, and former RNC Chair Mike Duncan. Ed Gillespie is the chairman of this group, sits on the board of American Crossroads and The American Action Forum board includes Coleman, Jeb Bush and Tom Ridge. They've run ads against Charlie Crist and Paul Hodes. Top donors include Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Devon Energy, AT&T, and tobacco companies.
American Future Fund - $25 million is the group responsible for the odious anti-Bruce Braley attack ad regarding the Park 51 project. They also ran ridiculous ads against health care reform last March, and employ the same media consultants who crafted the Swift Boat and Willie Horton ads. In the social network sphere, they are masters of "tweet bombs", a form of political spam intended to simulate a viral idea.
Club for Growth - $24 million: Chris Chocola (king of wedge issue legislation while in Congress) heads Club for Growth. The best description of Club for Growth is to call them the activist arm of the John Birch society. They endorse candidates like Joe Miller (AK), Tim Griffin (AR), Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Sharron Angle, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey, who endorse ending Social Security and Medicare, and shutting down the Board of Education. While there's no credible evidence linking the Birch Society with the Club for Growth, they espouse the same principles and ideology.
A coalition of health insurance industry players: $20 million: I cynically believe this group is the group former Anthem CEO Leslie Margolin went to after she resigned -- Transforming Health Care -- but there's no evidence of that.
Faith and Freedom Coalition - $11 million: Ralph Reed reborn. After the demise of the Christian Coalition, Reed spawned the Faith and Freedom Coalition, with renewed purpose and drive. No matter that the odious Reed was Jack Abramoff's go-to at any time where the faith community could be mobilized to make Abramoff and Reed some money. That's all in the past, and now Reed is back in full force. They're having a big DC "Strategy Briefing" September 9-11th, featuring such notables as Brent Bozell, Gary Bauer, Erick Erickson and Ken Blackwell. Consider this the "moral conservative" arm of Republican Party funding. Look for them to launch ad campaigns against same-sex marriage (and any judge ruling in its favor) and of course, abortion.
FreedomWorks - $10 million: The so-called populist group of Republican teabaggers, led by Dick Armey. FreedomWorks is one of the primary sponsors of the Glenn Beck insanity this weekend, and has been a primary force in tea party organizing and funding since 2008.
Americans for Job Security - $10 million - This group is headed by Stephen DeMaura, former director of the New Hampshire Republican Party. It is a pro-business organization and most recently spent large amounts of money to oppose Bill Halter's primary bid against Blanche Lincoln.
National Rifle Association - $10 million: Everyone knows who the NRA is, and what they want. Their board currently boasts such notable Republicans as Bob Barr, Oliver North, Ted Nugent, Wayne LaPierre, David Keene, and Chris W. Cox.
Susan B. Anthony's List - $6 million Another faith-based Republican group, specializing in the co-opting of women through wedge issues like abortion. They boast an Advisory committee that includes Michele Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Tancredo, Betsy DeVos (an ardent funder of all causes conservative, beneficiary of the Amway pyramid), Virginia Foxx, and Chris Chocola (of Club for Growth).
Tea Party Express - $5 million spent so far The west coast teabagger coalition, headed by lobbyists and former Howard Jarvis devotees. The Tea Party Express is wholeheartedly with Sarah Palin and the very right side fringe contingents, even going so far as to share a bus tour with Saint Sarah during her book launch earlier this year. Free book publicity in exchange for teabagger love. The TPE also sponsored an anti-health care reform bus tour in the spring, and spent $500,000 in the last week of Joe Miller's campaign to blitz Alaska with ads attacking Lisa Murkowski.
The reason I've gone into such detail on this group of organizations is to give a better sense of the labyrinthine linkage of each to the next, and all to Republicans. Each of these groups calls themselves independent, but they are anything but. They're Republican, head to tail, start to finish, and they're funded by large corporations, and the zillionaires who pal around with each other here and abroad.
These groups, and the people behind them, are the architects and funding source for the attack ads, mailers, robocalls and print ads we're barraged with on a daily basis. They're responsible for stirring the teabaggers into a froth and overlooking inconvenient facts about reality in order to feed a media frenzy about imagined threats to our nation. They arrive in the form of news broadcasters from Fox to CNN to even MSNBC, and have absolutely no problem lying and misleading to win back control of this Congress.
It's also interesting to see what names aren't in the spotlight, but still stand right behind the list and the money. Names like Steve Forbes and Ross Perot, for example. Perot funds the Tea Party Express, among other organizations. Steve Forbes is more likely to be behind the scenes, pulling the strings right. But in the end, it's a very few people putting a lot of money into their hopes that a new Congress will get them more money. And power.