GOP Sens. Rubio And Paul Stingy With Contributions From Their Leadership PAC

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have much in common. Both ran for Senate seats in 2010, both surprised party favorites to become the GOP nominee, and both rode strong Tea Party support to general election wins. Both, but especially Rubio, have been discussed as possible vice presidential candidates for presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

And, a ThinkProgress analysis reveals, both have newly established leadership PACs have have been very miserly with their support of other candidates.

In recent years, it has become typical for politicians elected to Congress to establish leadership PACs, which they use to make contributions to other candidates for office. So in March of 2011, two months after taking office, Rand Paul’s Reinventing A New Direction (RANDPAC) was organized. Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC followed suit that August. RANDPAC’s website says its mission is “support and elect Pro-Liberty, Pro-Constitution candidates in Kentucky and across the country,” and its Facebook page says it is “dedicated to helping elect fiscally and Constitutionally responsible individuals to the U.S. Senate and to lowering our National Debt.” In a video on the Reclaim America website, Rubio says the PAC aims to “help and assist like-minded candidates who want to come here and serve in the House, in the Senate, or maybe even in the White House to make a difference for America‚Äôs future.”

So did they? By the end of 2011, Paul’s RANDPAC had already raised $173,031 and Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC had collected $563,390. By that time, neither PAC had given a dime to another federal candidate.

The latest filings by the committee reveal that in 2012, each has made a very small number of contributions to political candidates — but has spent only a fraction of a percent on direct support for political candidates, through March 31.


  • Has raised $231,383.09.
  • Has spent $119,068.85.
  • Has given just $10,000 (less than 5 percent of the amount raised) to political candidates — Texas Sen. candidate Ted. Cruz (R), New Mexico Sen. candidate John Sanchez (R), Wisconsin Sen. candidate Mark Neumann (R), and the presidential campaign of his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
  • Has spent more than $20,000 on political consultants and more than $70,000 on fundraising and administrative costs.
  • Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC:

  • Has raised $826,064.54.
  • Has spent $440,750.54.
  • Has given just $19,593 (less than 3 percent of the amount raised) to political candidates — including $14,593 in transferred contributions raised specifically for Ohio Sen. candidate Josh Mandel (R) and donations to Mandel and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) – plus made $729.65 in independent expenditures.
  • Has spent more than $100,000 on political consultants and more than $200,000 on fundraising and administrative costs.
  • These numbers show little of the contributed money these two leadership PACs receive goes to the stated purpose of the PAC.

    Reclaim America PAC did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Jesse Benton, spokesman for RANDPAC, told ThinkProgress that the PAC’s spending reflects the realities a new PAC faces. “As with other start-up organizations, there are initial fees and admin costs that are borne disproportionately in the beginning,” he explained, including “prospecting list rentals, which constitute about half of RANDPAC disbursements.” He said the low ratio of contributions to administrative costs “will certainly change as we get closer to the November election.”

    And while it is true that new PACs do face significant upfront costs, other freshmen with leadership PACs have been much more active in sharing their wealth, including Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) Strategy PAC ($32,500 distributed to candidates out of $102,000 raised), Rep. Bob Hurt’s (R-VA) Help United Republicans Today PAC ($21,000 distributed to candidates out of $83,421 raised), and Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-VA) Better Leadership – Better America PAC ($28,500 distributed to candidates out of $81,021 raised) — each of whom raised less and shared more.

    The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics explains the role of these organizations: “By making donations to members of their party, ambitious lawmakers can use their leadership PACs to gain clout among their colleagues and boost their bids for leadership posts or committee chairmanships.” If these numbers are any indication, neither Paul nor Rubio is doing much of either. And given the committees’ apparent failure to use even ten percent of their donations toward their stated goal, donors to both PACs may want to be more conservative with their giving in the future.