In the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, corporations and special interest groups now enjoy the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Now, with less than 10 weeks until November, it’s clear just how far conservative groups are willing to go to try to influence the midterm elections.
According to a new report from ThinkProgress, conservative organizations have committed (or already spent) $400 million to advance their conservative agenda at the ballot box this year. For comparison’s sake, this outside money alone is more than the Democratic campaign committees spent combined when they took back both houses of Congress in the last midterm election. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal notes that special interest groups have already spent three times as much in 2010 than they had in 2006.
Among the outside groups that plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars electing conservatives are some familiar faces and some new ones as well. While the NRA and the Chamber of Commerce have long supported conservative causes, the former plans to double its spending from $10 million in 2006 to $20 million now and the latter will triple its commitment to $75 million this year. Many new groups are also entering the scene in a big way, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group with $52 million and Norm Coleman’s American Action Network with $25 million.
Those conservative groups trying to use $400 million in outside spending to tip the midterm election include:
— Chamber of Commerce has pledged to spend $75 million — American Crossroads has pledged to spend $52 million — Americans for Prosperity has pledged to spend $45 million — Republican State Leadership Committee has pledged to spend $40 million — American Action Network has pledged to spend $25 million — American Future Fund has pledged to spend up to $25 million — Club for Growth has pledged to spend at least $24 million — National Republican Trust PAC has pledged to spend at least $20 million — An unnamed health insurance industry coalition has pledged to spend $20 million — National Rifle Association has pledged to spend $20 million — Faith and Freedom Coalition has pledged to spend $11 million — FreedomWorks has pledged to spend $10 million — Americans for Job Security has pledged to spend $10 million — Susan B. Anthony List has pledged to spend $6 million — Our Country Deserves Better (Tea Party Express) has already spent $5 million — Tax Relief Coalition has already spent $4 million — Republican Majority Campaign has pledged to spend $3 million — Campaign for Working Families has pledged to spend $2 million — Heritage Action for America has pledged to spend $1 million — Financial Services Roundtable has already spent $0.5 million — Family Research Council has raised $0.5 million — Citizens United Political Victory Fund has pledged to spend $0.2 millionTOTAL: $399.2 million
Given the number of progressive accomplishments in the 111th Congress, including health care reform, the economic stimulus bill, and Wall Street reform, it’s no wonder that conservative groups are fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent a repeat next term. Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist who has also been involved in many independent-expenditure campaigns, told Politico, “If there is a time for independent groups to step up, this is it. This is the year for independent groups to put up or shut up.” Indeed, with conservative special interest groups putting it all on the line this November, their $400 million pledge may even increase before long.