Senate Conservatives Fund

The Senate Conservatives Fund began as then-Sen. Jim DeMint’s leadership PAC.[1] In 2012, he released the group from his personal control so that it could spin off a Super PAC – Senate Conservatives Action.[2] Senate Conservatives Action initially focused on Senate races, but has since expanded to House races as well.[3]

While the Senate Conservatives groups are active in general elections, much of their activity occurs within Republican primaries. The groups endorsed three challengers to incumbent Republican senators in 2014.[4] Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) complained that “they are spending most of their money going after Republicans.”[5]

For its part, the Senate Conservatives Action website declares that “we aren’t afraid to support candidates who challenge Republican incumbents who have lost their way.”[6] The Senate Conservatives Fund lists the groups’ policy requirements as, among others, “Repeal ObamaCare,” “Oppose Amnesty”, and “Oppose Taxpayer Funding for Abortion.”[7] This ideological focus manifested in political maneuvering during late 2013 when the groups partnered with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to help bring about a government shutdown.[8] More recently, the groups have criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his stated desire to avoid a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.[9]

The Senate Conservatives groups are chaired by Ken Cuccinelli, the former Attorney General of Virginia. During his tenure as Attorney General, Cuccinelli was criticized for accepting $18,000 worth of gifts from Jonnie Williams, the access-seeking donor whose relationship with then-Gov. Bob McDonnell resulted in McDonnell’s conviction.[10]

[1] “Jim DeMint launches Super PAC.” Jonathan Martin, Politico, 7/2/12

[2] “Jim DeMint launches Super PAC.” Jonathan Martin, Politico, 7/2/12

[3] “Powerful Senate Conservatives Fund expands to focus on House races.” Daniel Strauss, Talking Points Memo, 9/17/13

[4] “The Senate Conservatives Fund has had a very bad 2014.” Philip Bump, The Washington Post, 10/2/14

[5] “Senate Conservatives Fund roils GOP.” Manu Raju and Anna Palmer, Politico, 9/29/13

[6] “Senate Conservatives Action.” <http://www.senateaction.com>, accessed 9/22/15

[7] “About Senate Conservatives Fund.” <http://www.senateconservatives.com/site/about>, accessed 9/22/15

[8] “Senate Conservatives Fund roils GOP.” Manu Raju and Anna Palmer, Politico, 9/29/13

[9] “Mitch McConnell has funded the abortion industry for years.” Senate Conservatives Fund, 9/21/15

[10] “Why Cuccinelli is losing in Virginia.” James Hohmann, Politico, 9/16/13