Tea Party Group Spent Millions To Elect Republicans Who Voted For Shutdown Deal It Opposed

FreedomWorks, the Tea Party group that pushed Congressional Republicans to shut down the government and to risk a default on the national debt in order to push a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, railed against Wednesday’s bipartisan deal to reopen the federal government and protect the full faith and credit of the United States. But a ThinkProgress review of their campaign spending since 2009 finds that more of their political activity benefited Senators and Representatives who voted for the agreement than those who voted against it.

Of the more than $2.8 million in PAC contributions and independent expenditures made to support current members of Congress by FreedomWorks and its FreedomWorks for America superpac, over $1.5 million aided Republicans who voted for the deal the group so vehemently opposed, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Less than $1.3 million went to support candidates who backed the FreedomWorks position.

FreedomWorks joined with the Club for Growth, Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, Heritage Action for America, Citizens United, and an array of other Tea Party and far-right groups to oppose the deal agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). In a joint letter, they called the “Washington deal” an unmistakable “vote to move forward with Obamacare.” In a separate statement, FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe warned that his group would count a vote for this “sellout bargain” against legislators on its annual legislative score card.

Kibbe added:

Republican leadership has completely lost its way. Not only is this proposal a full surrender- it’s a complete surrender with presents for the Democrats. Apparently Mitch McConnell’s idea of a ‘compromise’ is to increase the debt limit, fully fund a broken health care law, and promise talks of increasing spending down the road.

The group spent more than $1.2 million to elect Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Flake voted for the compromise — and for the cloture motion to end debate on it — explaining that because it kept the sequester spending cuts in place, the deal was “a win for fiscal conservatives.” In a 2012 campaign ad, FreedomWorks for America called Flake “fiscally responsible.”


Just over $163,000 went to back Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who also voted yes. Coffman argued the deal “says we’re done fighting and we’re ready to begin an honest discussion about solutions for reducing the debt.”

Other FreedomWorks-backed Republicans voting with the bipartisan super-majorities included Sens. Richard Burr (NC) and Deb Fischer (NE), as well as Reps. Kevin Cramer (ND), Steve Daines (MT), Cory Garnder (CO), David McKinley (WV) Robert Pittenger (NC), Reid Ribble (WI), Steve Stivers (OH), Scott Tipton (CO), and Todd Young (IN).

Kibbe told CNN on Wednesday that Republicans who voted for the deal would “absolutely” pay a “political price” for their votes — primary challenges in their next elections.


An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed Rep. William Enyart (D-IL) as a Republican.