Republican PAC Orders $141 Million in Fall Advertising Ahead of November Election
Republican PAC Orders $141 Million in Fall Advertising Ahead of November Election

By Austin Alonzo

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), which supports Republican Party candidates for Congress, is purchasing $141 million worth of advertising ahead of the November general election.

On May 22, the hybrid political action committee, endorsed by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and the House’s Republican leadership, announced that the multimillion-dollar campaign is only the first wave of its reservations for the 2024 campaign. The ad buy will target 37 media markets in 20 different states.

In a statement, CLF President Dan Conston said the move is a “significant early down payment” on the Republicans holding the House majority.

“The map is undoubtedly small, and we are in a dogfight. Yet we are in a stronger position than the mainstream narrative suggests, with a promising political environment and standout Members and candidates in the toughest races,” Mr. Conston said in a statement. “Effective campaigns and resources will really matter.”

The fund said the expenditure is $20 million more than it spent in 2022 and three times more than it invested in 2020. The ads will play on television, streaming services, and digital platforms.

The most significant ad reservations are in New York City, where the CLF is spending $20.7 million, and Los Angeles, where it is spending $18.2 million.

In other major reservations, the CLF will spend $6.2 million in both Fresno-Visalia, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina. In Arizona, $5.8 million will be spent in both Phoenix and Tucson. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, will see $5.6 million spent. Portland, Oregon, is allocated $5.5 million. Philadelphia will see $5.4 million spent, and Denver and Detroit will each have $5.1 million allocated.

The CLF did not specify which candidates will receive its support, or draw its fire, in its statement.

In the 118th Congress, Republicans are still the majority party in the House despite some departures. All 435 House seats will be up for election in November 2024.

Dark Money, Megadonors, Oil Connections

The CLF is closely linked to the 501(c)(4) nonprofit American Action Network Inc. According to its most recent tax return, Mr. Conston is also the president of the nonprofit.

Under tax law, 501(c)(4) nonprofits are not required to disclose their donors. For this reason, they are often referred to as dark money groups.

In 2022, according to the most recent tax filing, American Action Network sent the CLF about $22.5 million. In 2023 and 2024, according to the FEC, the nonprofit sent $19.75 million to the CLF.

The CLF is not part of the Republican Party and is not affiliated with the party’s National Republican Congressional Committee.

When the CLF last disclosed its finances to the FEC in April, it said it had about $68.6 million cash on hand at the end of March. The CLF is due to issue its next quarterly disclosure statement in the middle of July.

The CLF also collected millions of dollars from Republican megadonors Timothy Mellon, Jeff Yass, and Ken Griffin, according to FEC records.

According to the watchdog group OpenSecrets, those three men are the biggest individual political donors of the 2023–2024 cycle. By OpenSecrets’ count, the trio donated more than $180 million to political causes since the beginning of 2023.

In the past two years, Mr. Mellon and Mr. Yass both gave the CLF $10 million. Mr. Griffin donated $5 million.

Over the past two years, the CLF also received significant backing from oil companies and industry groups. Notable donors include Occidental Petroleum Corp., Energy Transfer Partners LP, ConocoPhillips Co., American Petroleum Institute, and Devon Energy Corp., all of which donated $1 million to the CLF.

The CLF also received money from Ardleigh Impact Corp., a group being scrutinized for potentially being a so-called straw donor. Ardleigh contributed $500,000 in March.

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