Congressional Leadership Fund
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is a super PAC which says it is "exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives." CFL was founded in 2011 under the purview of then-Speaker John Boehner. CLF is primarily known for its TV political ads, which are often negative ads. Since Rep. Paul Ryan took over as Speaker of the House, CFL has been considered "aligned with" the Wisconsin representative.
CLF's executive director is Corry Bliss. CLF's "sister organization" American Action Network, is also lead by bliss. CLF claims to support "candidates who promote the values of the center-right majority in the House of Representatives and counters efforts on the left, like Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." It does so with the endorsement of the GOP House leadership.
Between 2014 and Sept 2018, CLF has raised over $160 million dollars to contribute to GOP politicians. Finacial supporters for CLF include GOP-megadonors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson who contributed $35 million to the PAC since 2016.
News and Controversy
"Flood" of "Misinformation" About Political Opponennets
"Paul Ryan's Super PAC" is reportedly repeatedly spreading falsehoods through their attack ads against Democrats. CFL has paid for and published "deceptive ads in races across the country," according to The Intercept.
In Illinois, CLF published an edited clip of the St. Clair County state’s attorney, Brendan Kelly, a Democrat, saying “as prosecutors, our goal is not a conviction.” The clip is repeated numerous times while making the claim that Kelly is a “liberal on crime" implying he is indifferent to the conviction of criminals. The clip is from a 2015 video interview from the Belleville News-Democrat." The full quote is "As prosecutors, our goal is not a conviction. Our goal is not to make an example necessarily of anybody. Our goal first and foremost is justice.” According to The Intercept, "Kelly is plainly paraphrasing the American Bar Association’s ethical standards for prosecutors, which state that the 'the duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict...Kelly is not, as the Congressional Leadership Fund ad suggests, saying that he does not care about crime.'"
In Nebraska, CLF made an accusation that "'Your family' will pay $2,500 after Democrat 'Kara Eastman eliminates your tax cut.'" Politifact rated this claim as false.
CLF ads from Ohio, New York, Maine, New Jersey, and California were examined by fact checkers at The Washington Post, it concluded: "Even by modern mudslinging standards, these ads by the Congressional Leadership Fund stand out for their dark tone and their strained relationship with the facts." Albeit one disputable allegation, the Post called CFL's ads "grossly misleading."
Sheldon Anderson and Miram Anderson are the largest donors to CLF, both gave $15 million in May of 2018. Timothy Mellon gave the third largest amount, $10 million. Other multi-million dollar contributions in the same 2018 election cycle include:
- The American Action Network: at least $19,370,00 since March.
- CEO of The Blackstone Group Stephen Schwarzman: $2,250,000
- Citadel Assets Founder Kenneth Griffin: $1,500,000
Corporate donors also include:
- Geo Group
- Koch Industries
- Valero Energy
- Airlines for America (a group that represents United Airlines, American Airlines, and other national carriers).
The Intercept reports that "many other corporations have likely contributed to the fund, but their identities are cloaked through a sister group called American Action Forum, which does not have to disclose donor information."
According to Open Secrets.org:
2018(as of Aug. 27)
- Money raised: $100,999,974
- Money spent: $40,812,757
- Independent expernditures: $43,879,068
- Largest donor: Miriam and Sheldon Anderson: $30,000,000 ($15 million each)
- Money raised: $51,053,020
- Money spent: $50,056,013
- End of the year cash on hand: $1,520,515
- Independent expernditures: $40,125,691
- Largest donor: Miriam and Sheldon Anderson $20,000,000 ($10 million each)
- Money raised: $12,612,698
- Money spent: $12,564,772
- End of the year cash on hand: $523,508
- Independent expernditures: $10,098,748
- Largest donor: Sheldon Anderson $5,000,000
- Money raised: $11,286,591
- Money spent: $10,811,009
- End of the year cash on hand: $475,582
- Independent expernditures: $9,450,223
- Largest donor: Miriam and Sheldon Anderson $5,000,000 ($2.5 million each)
- Corry Bliss, executive director
- Caleb Crosby, treasurer
- Patrick Lee, national field director
Board of Directors
A complete list of directors is not avaliable on the CLF website, but some directors were made public through reporting:
Congressional Leadership Fund
1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
- Cogressional Leadership Fund About CLF organizational website, Accessed Sept 2018.
- David M. Drucker Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC moves to save GOP House seat Washington Examiner March 31, 2017
- Kaitlin Washburn What is the Congressional Leadership Fund? Open Secrets, August 29, 2018
- Power List Corry Bliss Politico accessed Sept 2018
- Jacob Pramuk Paul Ryan-linked groups rack up record $66 million to protect House GOP majority CNBC Jan 9, 2018
- CLF AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK & CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND APPOINT CORRY BLISS AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR press release Dec. 19 2017
- Lee Fang PAUL RYAN’S SUPER PAC IS FLOODING CONGRESSIONAL RACES WITH MISINFORMATION ABOUT DEMOCRATS the Intercept, Sept 19 2018
- Stephanie Koff Congressional Leadership Fund distorts Kara Eastman’s statements on taxes Politifact Sept. 7 2018
- Salvador Rizzo Fact-checking Republican attack ads in tight House racesThe Washington Post Aug. 31 2018
- Open Secrets Congressional Leadership Fund Donors Center for Responsive Politics, accessed Sept 2018
- Open Secrets Congressional Leadership Fund Summary Center for Responsive Politics, accessed Sept 2018
- Federal Elections Commission CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND government website, accessed Sept 2018
- Andrea Drusch Revolving Doors National Journal, May 12, 2017
- Simone Pathé Congressional Leadership Fund Expands Field Offices Roll Call August 10, 2018
- James Hohmann The Daily 202: Inside the House GOP super PAC’s strategy to localize every key race The Washington Post July 20 2018
- Aaron Blake Top strategist Charlie Spies joins House GOP super PAC The Washington Post March 7, 2013
- CLF TOP GOP FUNDRAISER MASON FINK JOINS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND BOARD Press release, April 27, 2018