Congressional Leadership Fund

The Congressional Leadership Fund is “the primary Super PAC for Republican House leadership and [was] endorsed by [former] Speaker John Boehner.”[1] The group works so closely with Republican House leadership that Politico reported that Speaker Paul Ryan personally approached fundraiser Mason Fink to join the organization’s board.[2] As pointed out by the American Democracy Legal Fund in a complaint with the FEC, “Rep. Ryan, a federal officeholder and candidate, is controlling an independent expenditure-only committee by hand-selecting and personally offering Mason Fink a leadership role with Congressional Leadership Fund, in direct violation of federal law.”[3]

CLF is run by the same team in charge of the American Action Network nonprofit.[4] The Washington Post notes that the CLF and the AAN “have raised a combined $104 million since 2011 and have been among the largest outside spenders in House races.”[5] During that time period, CLF has spent $19.5 million on House races.[6][7] The CLF and the AAN are both part of a Karl Rove-sponsored network of establishment Republican groups.[8] As such, they work closely with the more famous Crossroads organizations, among others.

Like the AAN, the CLF is chaired by former Senator Norm Coleman. Coleman also lobbies his old colleagues on behalf of the Saudi, Emirati, and Indonesian governments.[9] As summarized by Noah Bookbinder of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “[Coleman is] someone who pushes the envelope on what is allowed under tax laws and campaign finance laws. It’s just hard to know what all his motivations are and whether each group is properly staying in its lane. … You have all these transparency issues because it’s so hard to tell where all the money is coming from and how these groups work together.”[10]

As of March 31, 2016, the Congressional Leadership Fund held $1.95 million on hand.[11] The group’s top donor is energy company Chevron, which donated $1 million.

[1]Veteran operative Mike Shields is leaving RNC to helm congressional Super PAC.” Philip Rucker, The Washington Post, 1/28/15

[2]Congressional Super PAC brings on Romney aide to defend House.” Alex Isenstadt, Politico, 04/27/16

[3]ADLF files complaint against Rep. Paul Ryan.” American Democracy Legal Fund, 05/11/16

[4]PAC profile: Congressional Leadership Fund.” Reity O’Brien, The Center for Public Integrity, 5/19/14

[5]Veteran operative Mike Shields is leaving RNC to helm congressional Super PAC.” Philip Rucker, The Washington Post, 1/28/15

[6]Congressional Leadership Fund – Independent Expenditures – 2014 Cycle”. The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 12/10/15

[7]Congressional Leadership Fund – Independent Expenditures – 2012 Cycle”. The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 12/10/15

[8]Karl Rove’s fight club.” Kenneth Vogel, Politico, 3/27/12

[9]Former Sen. Norm Coleman works the halls of power.” Allison Sherry, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/15

[10]Former Sen. Norm Coleman works the halls of power.” Allison Sherry, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/15

[11]Congressional Leadership Fund – FEC Form 3X.” Federal Election Commission, 01/31/16, p. 2