Patriot Majority

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Patriot Majority USA is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. It is the dark money wing of Patriot Majority, a network of pro-Democrat outside spending groups that has existed since 2006 and had historically disclosed its donors. With the creation of Patriot Majority USA, the group has now jumped into the world of dark money. Patriot Majority USA has existed in its current form since 2008.[1]

In response to criticism that Democrats were playing the same dirty games as right-wing groups, Patriot Majority's President Craig Varoga stated, "We have to play the cards we're dealt because otherwise, if we whine and complain, [we] will be completely disadvantaged, and we will lose the races that otherwise we should win."[2]

Patriot Majority USA is the most active of a family of organizations that includes a 527, a Super PAC, and a political action committee all launched before Patriot Majority USA was created.[3]

Group Leadership

  • Craig Varoga: Creator and head of the Patriot Majority network. Varoga is a longtime Democratic political strategist who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and others. He has also been a strategist or consultant in numerous successful gubernatorial campaigns, including those of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Varoga served as campaign manager for former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack during his 2008 presidential campaign.[4]
  • Joe Householder serves as Secretary of the orginization. Householder is a strategist in the Texas office of the public relations firm Purple Strategies. He specializes in crisis communications. Householder worked with Varoga on the campaign of former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and was previously a spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  • Bill Burke serves as Director of the organization. Burke is the executive director of the Foundation for the Future, a nonprofit working to represent the interests of Democrats during the redistricting process. Burke has worked on campaigns in more than 30 states and in the communications department of the Democratic National Committee.
  • Dave Contarino[4]
  • Patrick J. Hall[4]
  • George Rakis[4]

Influencing the 2012 Elections

OpenSecrets.org estimates that Patriot Majority spent approximately $7.5 million in the 2012 election cycle, the vast majority of which was spent opposing Republican candidates in the Senate and House campaigns.[5] Its affiliated PAC spent an additional $404,000 on ads attacking Mitt Romney.[6]

Patriot Majority also spent several hundred thousand dollars printing and distributing literature promoting the campaign of Barack Obama.[7] Its PAC ran negative ads attacking Obama's opponent, Republican Mitt Romney. The sections below detail Patriot Majority's involvement in races in the 2012 election, along with examples of ads they have aired against candidates in those races. At the end of each section, a short summary lists every major ad buy the group made in that particular race.

Anti-Romney Ad

"Romney is Bain"

Patriot Majority's PAC spent $400,000 on a single ad buy in late October.[8] The buy was the only ad purchased by the group in the 2012 election cycle. The ad, entitled "Romney is Bain," connected Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to various misdeeds caused by Bain Captial, a company he controlled and helped found.

Connecticut Senate Race Patriot Majority ran a single ad against Republican Linda McMahon, who was running for U.S. Senate in Connecticut.

Florida House Race Patriot Majority ran a single ad opposing Republican Steven Southerland, who was running for Congress in Florida's 2nd District.

  • Lost Touch: October 9th, 2012: $170,185[10]

Georgia House Race Patriot Majority Spent $200,000 opposing Republican Lee Anderson, who was running for U.S. Representative in Georgia's 12th District.[11]

  • Drowning: October 12th, 2012: $144,139[12]

Iowa House Race Patriot Majority ran a single ad opposing Thomas Lantham, who was running for U.S. Representative in Iowa's 3rd District.

Montana Senate Race

"Old Fashioned Hard Work"

In Montana, Patriot Majority spent to oppose the campaign of Dennis Rehberg, who was running to oppose Democrat John Tester for control of Montana's U.S. Senate Seat. Patriot Majority spent $931,000 opposing Rehberg in 2012.[14]

Nevada Senate Race

"Cynthia"

In 2012, Republican Dean Heller was the by far the largest target for Patriot Majority. The group spent $3.7 million, almost half their total spending, opposing his bid for the Nevada U.S. Senate Seat.[20] Heller ultimately won despite buys from Patriot Majority.

  • Before: June 11th, 2012: $186,950[21]
  • Disastrous: July 10th, 2012: $220,200[22]
  • Know: August 15th, 2012: $238,924[7]
  • Know (rebuy): August 23rd, 2012: $251,909[7]
  • Cynthia: September 27th, 2012: $339,757[23]
  • Cynthia (rebuy): October 4th, 2012: $324,392[24]
  • Cyndi: October 15th, 2012: $873,919[25]
  • Free Ride: October 17th, 2012: $315,892[7]
  • Free Ride (rebuy): October 30th, 2012: $270,739[7]

North Dakota Senate Race

"Minimum Wage"

Patriot Majority Spent $675,000 opposing Republican Rick Berg, who was running to oppose Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for control of Montana's U.S. Senate Seat.

Utah House Race Patriot Majority ran a single ad attacking Republican Mia Love, a former mayor of Salt Lake City who was running for U.S. Representative in Utah's 4th district.

Pennsylvania Senate Race Patriot Majority ran a single ad supporting Bob Casey, the Democratic incumbent in Pennsylvania's Senate Race. Patriot Majority's ad ran less than a week before the general election.

  • Agenda: November 1st, 2012: $299,515[27]

"Greed Agenda" Campaign

"Greed Agenda"

While not directly connected with their election spending, in August of 2012, Patriot Majority began airing ads criticizing the Koch Brothers and other conservative special interest groups, suggesting the brothers are spending big "to buy this year's elections and advance their agenda," with the goal of electing "politicians who will pass laws that benefit special interests but hurt the middle class." Immediately after the ads aired, Koch Industries issued a response to these ads, claiming opponents speaking out against them are an "attempt[ing] to shut down free speech." The initial buy for these ads was $500,000. [28]

Patriot Majority also released a website to coincide with the ads: StoptheGreedAgenda.com which features ongoing coverage of Koch involvement in the 2012 elections and hosts a petition to "Stop them from giving tax breaks and bonuses to the rich at the expense of the middle class."

Prior Election Activity

Patriot Majority was also active in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. In 2008 they spent at least $8 million on Democratic candidates in the 2008 election cycle, and $4 million in 2010. In 2010, the group formed Patriot Majority PAC, a Super PAC which spent an additional $3.3 million. That cycle, Patriot Majority was largely funded by donations from the American Federation of State, Municipal, County, and Federal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employee's International Union (SEIU), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)[29]

Connections to Other Groups

Majority PAC was launched in 2011, and explicitly modeled on Patriot Majority.[30] Patriot Majority and Majority PAC both employ Craig Varoga as a senior strategist,[31] and both use the same media production company to produce and air their ads. This company, Waterfront Strategies, is a carefully partitioned division of GMMB Strategies, a media consultancy that functioned as the media arm of the 2012 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.[32]

Majority PAC, which spent at least $13 million in 2012, mostly targeting Republican Senatorial Candidates, and Patriot Majority PAC, which spent $400,000 opposing Mitt Romney.[33] Through Patriot Majority USA is not required to disclose its contributors, its sister organizations historically have been backed by a handful of well-known Democratic political donors and labor unions, especially the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.[34] There is also significant overlap between donors to Majority PAC and donors to Priorities USA, the super PAC formed expressly for the purpose of re-electing Barack Obama in 2012.[34]

Funding and Tax Status

Patriot Majority USA is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, and does not have to disclose its donors. According to the Center for Public Integrity, "its sister organizations historically have been backed by a handful of well-known Democratic political donors and labor unions, especially the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME is both the largest donor to Patriot Majority’s 527 committee and a co-founder of Foundation for the Future, a nonprofit whose executive director is Bill Burke, the secretary of Patriot Majority USA."[35]

Patriot Majority also operates a PAC, the Patriot Majority PAC, which operates on a smaller budget. In 2012 the group's largest donors were the Teamsters Union ($20,000) the Partners and Allies Trade Union ($20,000) and the Onida Tribe of Wisconsin ($7,600). In 2010, the group received a $700,000 donation from the American Federation of Teachers, a $300,000 donation from MGM Resorts, and a $75,000 contribution from Harrahs Operating Co., which operates Casinos.[36]

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the Patriot Majority network's funding is often confusing and circular. For example, in 2010, AFSCME sent Patriot Majority’s 527 a total of $500,000. Another $350,000 came from a group called Patriot Majority West, another Varoga 527 funded almost entirely by AFSCME.[37]

In 2010, the group reported $5.2 million in total revenues, and $5.3 million in total expenses. The net assets of the group totaled $25,800. For the full I-90 report from 2010 of the Patriot Majority, click here.

Contact Information

1717 Rhode Island Ave NW, Ste. 6
Washington, DC 20036
Email: 1776 AT PatriotMajority DOT org
Web Contact: http://www.patriotmajority.org/contact

References

  1. Russ Choama, Center for Responsive Politics, "Patriot Majority," Opensecrets.org, accessed October 1st, 2012.
  2. Abby Phillip and Kenneth P. Vogel, "50 politicos to watch: 501(c )(4) operatives," Politico, July 7, 2012.
  3. FactCheck.org, Patriot Majority, organizational website, accessed January 29, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Will Evans, "Profile: Patriot Majority," NPR, September 8, 2008.
  5. Center for Responsive Politics, Outside Spending Report on Patriot Majority, Opensecrets.org, accessed January 1, 2013.
  6. Sunlight Foundation, Profile: Patriot Majority PAC, Follow the Unlimited Money online database, accessed January 7, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Sunlight Foundation, Profile: Patriot Majority USA, Follow the Unlimited Money online database, accessed January 8, 2012.
  8. Federal Election Commission: Independent Expenditure filing, Patriot Majority PAC, organizational document, filed October 25th, 2012.
  9. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-830875 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  10. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-815161 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  11. Opensecrets.org: Outside Spending Report for Georgia, 12th District, Accessed January 8th, 2012.
  12. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-819735 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  13. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-808672 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  14. Opensecrets.org: Outside spending report,Montana, Accessed January 8th, 2012
  15. Sunlight Foundation, REHBERG, DENNIS RAY (R) Office Sought: MT (Senate), Follow the Unlimited Money online database, updated April 11, 2013.
  16. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-785053 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  17. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-793002 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  18. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-807227 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  19. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-785053 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, FEC filing, accessed May 2013.
  20. Opensecrets.org: Outside Spending Report, Nevada, Accessed January 8th, 2013
  21. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-787734 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  22. Sunlight Foundation, HELLER, DEAN (R) Office Sought: NV (Senate), Follow the Unlimited Money online database, updated April 11, 2013.
  23. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-812116 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  24. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-813330 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  25. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-819735 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  26. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-809533 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  27. Federal Election Commission, SCHEDULE 5-E ITEMIZED INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES FILING FEC-832077 Committee: PATRIOT MAJORITY USA, accessed May 2013.
  28. Laura Steigerwald, Dems Decide Kochs Are an Election Issue: "Patriot Majority" Launches $500K Ad Buy, PRWatch.org, August 27th, 2012.
  29. Factcheck.org, Player's Guide for Patriot Majority, organizational profile, September 18th, 2011.
  30. Manu Raju, Senate Dems Launch "Majority PAC", Politico, February 22, 2011.
  31. Manu Raju, Senate Dems Launch "Majority PAC", Politico, February 22, 2011.
  32. Michael McAuliff and Paul Blumenthal, Political Consultants From Mysterious Firm Tread Fine Legal Line 'Putting The Lie To Reality', Huffington Post, June 8th, 2012.
  33. Opensecrets.org, Top Organizations Disclosing Donations to Majority PAC, 2012, Center for Responsive Politics, accessed January 14, 2012.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Rachael Marcus, "PAC profile: Majority PAC", The Center for Public Integrity, February 16, 2012.
  35. Center for Public Integrity, Patriot Majority USA, Consider the Source, January 22, 2013.
  36. Center for Responsive Politics, Top Organizations Disclosing Donations to Patriot Majority, OpenSecrets.org, Accessed October 9th, 2012.
  37. Russ Choma, Center for Responsive Politics, Liberal Group With Ties to Unions Ends Donor Disclosure, OpenSecrets.org, August 23, 2012.