Club for Growth

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The Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization active in the United States of America, with an agenda focused on taxation and other economic issues. The Club has two political arms: an affiliated traditional Political Action Committee called the Club for Growth PAC and Club for Growth Action, an independent-expenditure only committee or Super-PAC. According to its website, the Club for Growth's policy goals include cutting income tax rates, repealing the estate tax, limited government and a Balanced Budget Amendment, entitlement reform, free trade, tort reform, school choice, and deregulation.[1] The Club for Growth PAC endorses and raises money for fiscally conservative candidates.

History

The original Club for Growth was founded in 1999 by Stephen Moore, Thomas L. "Dusty" Rhodes, and Richard Gilder. Moore served as the first president of the original Club from 1999 until December 2004, when board members voted to remove Moore as president.[2] Current Pennsylvania United States Senator Pat Toomey served as president from 2005 through 2009. The Club's current president is former Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola.

The founder of the original Club for Growth, Stephen Moore, has said, "We want to be seen as the tax cut enforcer in the party."[3]

In 2010, the Club’s political arms spent about $8.6 million directly on candidates and bundled another $6 million from Club members and directed those funds to candidates.[4]

Mission

Unlike many other political action committees, the Club for Growth's PAC regularly involves itself in primary elections.[4] The Club focuses more on open seats than on challenging sitting Republicans, but the Club has helped to unseat a number of incumbent Republicans.[2][5] The Club for Growth has established a vetting process for potential candidates that involves an interview and questionnaire, a visit by a Club staffer to the candidate's district, and a poll conducted to establish whether the candidate has a viable path to victory. Each election cycle, the Club's PAC endorses candidates and encourages donors to support the endorsed candidates.[2] The Club is known for targeting "establishment" Republican candidates.[4]

Issue advocacy

2003

In 2003, the original Club for Growth strongly opposed the Medicare prescription drug benefit proposal: “As Steve Moore of the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group that opposes the bill, puts it, the Medicare issue could become a 'hand grenade that explodes in the Republicans' lap'.[6] In addition, 'Stephen Moore, head of the conservative Club for Growth, said there could be a backlash against the bill once voters figure out what's actually in it. A poll of 800 likely voters conducted by the club found that respondents favored the legislation by 43 to 31 percent, but after learning more about the bill they opposed it 54 to 19 percent.'”[7]

The original Club for Growth strongly supported the Bush tax cuts of 2003 and even ran television ads in the states of two Republicans who voiced their opposition to the tax cuts. According to the New York Times, “Last spring, [Club for Growth president Steve] Moore attacked two Republican senators who were resisting the latest tax cut: George Voinovich of Ohio and Olympia Snowe of Maine. He ran ads in each of their states in which he compared them with the French president, Jacques Chirac. That was too much for Karl Rove, the president's political enforcer, who called the ads "stupid" and "counterproductive."[8]

2005

The original Club for Growth created a congressional scorecard in 2005, the year that Pat Toomey became president. The Club’s first key vote alert was actually an amendment sponsored by a Democrat. Representative Earl Blumenauer offered an amendment to an agricultural appropriations bill that would have reduced the sugar program by 6%. The amendment failed, 146-280.[9]

The original Club also fought hard in support of the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement in 2005, running print advertisements in local beltway publications. According to Roll Call, “Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is president of the Club for Growth, a CAFTA supporter, said his group continued running advertisements over the weekend, and early this week will be touching base with Members. 'We think we've been able to get our message across very well,' Toomey said, adding that he's cautiously optimistic that the contentious pact will pass. 'We think this is very, very important that we not backslide in trade.'"[10]

The original Club opposed and scored against the 2005 highway bill.[11] President Bush threatened to veto it, but ended up signing the bill. According to the Christian Science Monitor, " 'For fiscal conservatives, it's frustrating to watch,' says David Keating, executive director at the Club for Growth, a Washington group that advocates fiscal responsibility and lower taxes. 'He's beginning to lose all credibility with these veto threats.'"[12]

According to the Washington Post, “The Club for Growth, a conservative group that funds like-minded candidates for Congress, has turned the highway legislation into a bumper sticker for the GOP's fiscal failings. 'Too many Congressional Republicans have veered away from the limited government agenda that got them elected to the majority in Congress. They have approved pork-barrel highway bills worse than the Democrats used to give us,' says one appeal to supporters.”[13]

The original Club's David Keating told the Chicago Sun Times, “'It is a pork-laden bill,' said David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, which argues that limited government and reduced taxes lead to a strong economy. 'If this was something the Democrats brought up when they were in power, the Republicans would have been screaming. These projects have nothing to do with transportation.'"[14]

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “'This is a defining moment. The Republican Party came to power in 1995 by advocating limited government. But in the last four to five years, there has been no evidence that the Republican officials in the federal government have any remaining commitment to this vital principle,' said Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth, at a press briefing with other conservative leaders on Capitol Hill last Thursday.”[15] During the debate on the highway bill, the Club supported an amendment by Tom Coburn that would defund the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska.

In light of the Supreme Court’s Kelo v. City of New London decision, the original Club scored an appropriations amendment offered by Scott Garrett that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used to enforce the Court’s decision. The amendment passed, 231-189.[16] The original Club for Growth PAC highlighted this vote when it targeted Joe Schwarz, a House Republican that the original Club’s PAC helped defeat in 2006. According to The Hill, "'On a day-to-day basis, he's a fiscal liberal,' said David Keating, the original Club's executive director, referring specifically to Schwarz's rating by the National Taxpayers Union and the votes he cast against a bill to override a Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain and his support of labor-backed legislation to uphold prevailing wages in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”[17]

2006

In the spring of 2006, the Club opposed the 527 Reform Act, which curtailed spending by 527 organizations. The Club for Growth led a coalition of center-right groups that wrote a letter to members of Congress. The letter stated: “To suppress views of those we dislike will inevitably risk suppression of our own. We who oppose such a proposal want to continue to freely debate our ideas in the public arena. We want Americans to hear all sides -- and to decide for themselves who's right. When you were sworn into office, you took an oath to "support this Constitution." We ask you to faithfully uphold that oath by rejecting H.R. 513, S. 1053, and any other bill that restricts political free speech."[18] The House passed the 527 Reform Act by a margin of 218-209, but the Senate did not consider the legislation.[19]

The Club for Growth supported various amendments offered by Jeff Flake that would cut funding for earmarks like “dairy education” and a “wine initiative.”[20] The Club also included the sponsorship of the card check bill in its scorecard. If lawmakers co-sponsored the bill, they were docked points on the Club’s rating system.[21]

2007

The Club for Growth issued a new scorecard in 2007 that highlighted how House members voted on several amendments that defunded earmarks. Sixteen congressmen scored a perfect 100% on the so-called "RePORK Card", voting for all 50 anti-pork amendments. They were all Republicans. Conversely, 105 congressmen (81 Democrats and 24 Republicans) scored a 0%, voting against every single amendment. In 2007, the Club also scored against House bills that increased the minimum wage, implemented card check, and sought caps on CEO pay.[22] In the Senate, the Club scored against bills that increased the minimum wage, passage of the farm bill, and the SCHIP healthcare plan.[23]

Also in 2007, the Club for Growth opposed protectionist policies against China. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had proposed a bill that would apply large tariffs on Chinese imports if that country didn’t increase the value of its currency. In response, the Club sponsored a petition of 1,028 economists who stated their opposition to protectionist policies against China. The list of economists included Nobel Laureates Finn Kydland, Edward Prescott, Thomas Schelling, and Vernon Smith. The petition played off a similar petition that was also signed by 1,028 economists in 1930 that opposed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.[24]

2008-09

In 2008 and 2009, the Club for Growth opposed the $787 billion stimulus bill, Cash for Clunkers, cap and trade legislation, the Wall Street bailout, the auto bailout, the Affordable Care Act and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.[25]

After Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, Club President Pat Toomey penned an op-ed that included the results of a poll commissioned by the Club: "A poll commissioned by the Club for Growth in 12 swing congressional districts over the past weekend shows that the voters who made the difference in this election still prefer less government -- lower taxes, less spending and less regulation -- to Obama's economic liberalism. Turns out, Americans didn't vote for Dems because they support their redistributionist agenda, but because they are fed up with the GOPers in office. This was a classic 'throw the bums out' election, rather than an embrace of the policy views of those who will replace them."[26]

In 2009, the Club produced another "RePORK Card". This time there were 22 House members with a 100% score: 1 Democrat and 21 Republicans. At the bottom, 211 House members received a 0% score: 202 Democrats and 9 Republicans.[27]

2010

The Club for Growth launched its Repeal It! campaign in 2010 in an attempt to help build public support for undoing the Affordable Care Act. In 2010, more than 400 federal lawmakers and candidates signed the Repeal It! pledge, including more than 40 of the incoming freshman class of congressmen and Senators.[28]

The Club for Growth advocated the discharge petition, a proposal that would have forced a House vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act. At the time, Keith Olbermann said: “The petition, which would need 218 signatures to force House Speaker Pelosi to put the repeal bill up for a vote, went largely ignored. As Talking Points Memo reports, on Monday it had only 30 signatures. That is until the right wing group Club For Growth e-mailed its members, explaining Mr. [Steve] King's discharge petition will be considered as a key vote on the club's annual Congressional scorecard. That scorecard is considered one of the gold standards of conservative rankings. That and the Spanish Inquisition. So by Tuesday, the petition had 22 more signatures."[29]

2011-12

The Club was involved in the debate over the debt ceiling that took place in August 2011. The Club endorsed and strongly supported "Cut Cap and Balance" and ran issue ads including the image of a Rhino (referring to Republican In Name Only), urging Republicans to “show some spine” in negotiating on the debt ceiling.[30]

The Club opposed the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank.[31] The Club also took a strong position against Republicans voting for tax increases during the debate over the so-called “fiscal cliff”. The Club opposed the “Plan B” tax increase proposed by John Boehner and also opposed the final deal.[32]

2014

The Club for Growth is involved in finding primary challengers for GOP incumbents in safe Republican districts that it refers to as RINOs (Republicans in name only). It launched the website called "www.PrimaryMyCongressman.com" to highlight those Republicans with liberal voting records who have failed to consistently vote on limiting government.[33]

Club for Growth PAC

2002

In the 2002 congressional races, 17 out of 19 candidates endorsed by the organization's PAC won. The original Club also endorsed Mark Sanford in the South Carolina gubernatorial Republican primary as he defeated Bob Peeler.

2004

In 2004, the original Club for Growth's PAC endorsed and supported U.S. Representative Pat Toomey, who challenged incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. The PAC was reported to have collected contributions totaling over $934,000 for Toomey. It also spent $1 million on its own independent television advertising campaign on Toomey's behalf. Specter, who had the support of President Bush, the RNC, and Sen. Rick Santorum, defeated Toomey by a narrow margin of 51–49%. Afterwards, Toomey accepted the position as President of the Club for Growth which he served as until April 2009.

2005

On September 19, 2005, the Federal Election Commission filed suit against the original Club for Growth for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act for failing to register as a political action committee in the U.S. House elections of 2000, U.S. House elections of 2002, and 2004 congressional elections.[34] In September, 2007 the Club for Growth agreed to pay $350,000 in civil penalties and criticized the FEC for the lawsuit.[35]

2006

The original Club's PAC successfully supported the electoral bids of freshmen U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), Doug Lamborn[36] (R-CO), Bill Sali[37] (R-ID), and Tim Walberg[38] (R-MI). Congressional Quarterly wrote that Smith's views did not differ greatly from those of his primary election rivals, but the endorsement of the Club for Growth's PAC "gave him the imprimatur of the most fiscally conservative candidate, and it helped boost him to the top of the campaign fundraising competition."[39]

The original Club's PAC successfully supported the reelection of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in a heavily fought race against former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.[2]

The original Club's PAC endorsed four unsuccessful candidates for U.S. Senate, including Mike Bouchard in Michigan, Mike McGavick in Washington, Michael Steele in Maryland, and Steve Laffey in Rhode Island.[2]

The original Club's PAC supported Sharron Angle, who was defeated in the Republican primary in Nevada's 2nd congressional district. The original Club spent over $1 million in its support of Angle.[40] The original Club's PAC additionally supported the losing primary campaigns of Phil Krinkie in Minnesota and Kevin Calvey in Oklahoma. The original Club's PAC also supported incumbent congressman Chris Chocola in his losing race in Indiana,[4] John Gard's losing effort in Wisconsin, and Rick O'Donnell's losing effort in Colorado.[41] The Club's PAC supported the successful reelection of Steve Chabot in Ohio.

Candidate Race Primary General Outcome
Adrian Smith Nebraska's 3rd congressional district 39% 55%[42] Win
Doug Lamborn Colorado's 5th congressional district 26.97%[43] 59% Win
Bill Sali Idaho's 1st congressional district 26%[44] 50% Win
Tim Walberg Michigan's 7th congressional district 53%[45] 49.93%[45] Win
Henry Cuellar Texas's 28th congressional district 68%[46] Win
Mike Bouchard United States Senate election in Michigan, 2006 60% 41%[47] Loss
Mike McGavick United States Senate election in Washington, 2006 85.88%[48] 39.93%[49] Loss
Michael Steele United States Senate election in Maryland, 2006 86.96%[50] 44.19%[51] Loss
Sharon Angle Nevada's 2nd congressional district 35.29%[52] Loss
Phil Krinkie Minnesota's 6th congressional district Loss
Kevin Calvey Oklahoma's 5th congressional district 10.09%[53] Loss
Chris Chocola Indiana's 2nd congressional district 70% 46%[54] Loss
John Gard Wisconsin's 8th congressional district 49%[55] Loss
Rick O'Donnell Colorado's 7th congressional district Unopposed 42% Loss
Steve Chabot Ohio's 1st congressional district 52%[56] Win
Stephen Laffey United States Senate election in Rhode Island, 2006 45.83% Loss
Jon Kyl[57] United States Senate election in Arizona, 2006 99.5% 53.34% Win
George Allen United States Senate election in Virginia, 2006 49.2% Loss
John B. T. Campbell III[58] California's 48th congressional district 60% Win
Jim Jordan[59] Ohio's 4th congressional district 60% Win
Ralph Norman[60] South Carolina's 5th congressional district Loss
David McSweeney[61] Illinois's 8th congressional district 42.75% 43.7% Loss

2007

The Club's PAC endorsed state senator Steve Buehrer in the special election for Ohio CD 5 to replace the deceased Rep. Paul Gillmor. Buehrer however was defeated by Bob Latta, the son of former Rep. Del Latta, in the Republican primary in November 2007 by a 44% to 40% margin.

The Club's PAC strongly supported Paul Jost, the chairman of the Virginia chapter of the Club for Growth, in the contest to replace deceased Rep. Jo Ann Davis in Virginia's 1st congressional district. In the nominating convention, Jost was defeated by state delegate Rob Wittman.

2008

In Maryland's 1st congressional district, the Club's PAC endorsed state senator Andrew P. Harris against nine term incumbent Wayne Gilchrest. In the February 12 primary, Harris surged to a strong 44% to 32% victory. Gilchrest became the second incumbent Republican to be defeated by a candidate supported by the Club. The first was Rep. Joe Schwarz in Michigan in 2006.[5] Harris was, however, unable to win the general election.

In Georgia's 10th congressional district, the Club's PAC endorsed incumbent Paul Broun who defeated state representative Barry Fleming 71% to 29% in the July 15, 2008 primary election. Broun's victory surprised many political observers.[62]

In Arizona's 5th congressional district, the Club's PAC endorsed former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert, who narrowly defeated former candidate Susan Bitter-Smith by a margin of 29.9% to 28%; there were three other candidates.[63] He did not win the general election.

During the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, the Club's PAC was critical of Mike Huckabee, attacking him as the "tax-increasing liberal governor of Arkansas".[64] Huckabee, in turn, referred to the Club for Growth as the "Club for Greed".[65]

Candidate Race Primary General Outcome
Paul Broun[62] Georgia's 10th congressional district 71% 61% Win
Charlie Ross Mississippi's 3rd congressional district - Loss
Matt Shaner Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district - Loss
Harri Anne Smith Alabama's 2nd congressional district - Loss
Bob Onder Missouri's 9th congressional district - Loss
Sean Parnell Alaska's at-large congressional district - Loss
Steve Scalise Louisiana's 1st congressional district 75% Win
Woody Jenkins Louisiana's 6th congressional district 46% Loss
John Shadegg Arizona's 4th congressional district 54.08% Win
Scott Garrett New Jersey's 5th congressional district 56% Win
Doug Lamborn Colorado's 5th congressional district 45% 60% Win
Michele Bachmann Minnesota's 6th congressional district 46.41% Win
Pete Olson Texas's 22nd congressional district 69% 53% Win
Mike Coffman Colorado's 6th congressional district 40% 61% Win
Tom McClintock[66] California's 4th congressional district 50.3% Win
Saxby Chambliss United States Senate election in Georgia, 2008 57.5% Win
John Sununu United States Senate election in New Hampshire, 2008 88.7% 43.3% Loss
Bob Schaffer United States Senate election in Colorado, 2008 Uncontested 42.5% Loss
Steve Pearce United States Senate election in New Mexico, 2008 51.29% 38.7% Loss
Andrew P. Harris[67] Maryland's 1st congressional district 48.33% Loss
Tim Walberg[68][69] Michigan's 7th congressional district 46.47% Loss
Tom Feeney Florida's 24th congressional district 41.1% Loss
Dean Andal California's 11th congressional district 45% Loss
David Schweikert Arizona's 5th congressional district 30% 44% Loss
Chris Hackett Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district 44% Loss
Paul Jost Virginia's 1st congressional district Loss
Steve Buehrer Ohio's 5th congressional district 40.23% - Loss

2009

The Club's PAC endorsed in the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district the Conservative Party of New York candidate, Doug Hoffman instead of Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava. With the Club pouring money into Hoffman's campaign, Scozzafava realized that she could not win and withdrew from the race the Sunday before the November 3 special election, endorsing the Democratic candidate Bill Owens.[70] Owens won the election in a district where portions had not had a Democratic congressman since the 19th century.[71]

2010

Of the twenty-six general election candidates endorsed by Club for Growth in 2010, twenty won election.[72] The following chart lists candidates who were endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC in the 2010 election cycle:[73]

Candidate Race Primary General Outcome
David Schweikert Arizona's 5th congressional district 52% Win
Tom Coburn United States Senate election in Oklahoma, 2010 90.4%[74] 70.64%[75] Win
Tom Graves Georgia's 9th congressional district 55.2% Unopposed Win
Mike Lee United States Senate election in Utah, 2010 51.2% 51.6% Win
Ron Johnson United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 2010 84.7% 51.9% Win
Sharron Angle United States Senate election in Nevada, 2010 40.1% 44.55% Loss
Rand Paul United States Senate election in Kentucky, 2010 58.8% 55.7% Win
Marco Rubio United States Senate election in Florida, 2010 84.6% 48.9% Win
Ken Buck United States Senate election in Colorado, 2010 51.6% 46.4% Loss
Joe Miller United States Senate election in Alaska, 2010 50.91% 35.1% Loss
Pat Toomey United States Senate election in Pennsylvania, 2010 81.5% 51% Win
Tim Huelskamp Kansas's 1st congressional district 73.76% Win
Mike Pompeo Kansas's 4th congressional district 39% 59% Win
Jeff Duncan South Carolina's 3rd congressional district 51% 62% Win
Tim Scott South Carolina's 1st congressional district 68% 65% Win
Justin Amash Michigan's 3rd congressional district 40% 60% Win
Mick Mulvaney South Carolina's 5th congressional district 55% Win
Todd Young Indiana's 9th congressional district 52% Win
Stephen Fincher Tennessee's 8th congressional district 59% Win
Tim Griffin Arkansas's 2nd congressional district 58% Win
David Harmer California's 11th congressional district 48% Loss
Jesse Kelly Arizona's 8th congressional district 47% Loss
Nan Hayworth New York's 19th congressional district 53% Win
Keith Rothfus Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district 49% Loss
Andrew P. Harris Maryland's 1st congressional district 55% Win
Jim DeMint United States Senate election in South Carolina, 2010 83% 61.5% Win
Doug Hoffman[76] New York's 23rd congressional district 46% Loss
Kevin Calvey[77] Oklahoma's 5th congressional district - Loss
Robin Smith[78] Tennessee's 3rd congressional district - Loss

2012

In 2012, the Club for Growth PAC endorsed eighteen candidates, nine of whom were victorious:[79]

Candidate Race Primary General Outcome
Richard Mourdock[80] United States Senate election in Indiana, 2012 60.5% 44.3% Loss
Josh Mandel[81] United States Senate election in Ohio, 2012 63% 44.7% Loss
Connie Mack IV[82] United States Senate election in Florida, 2012 58.7% 42.23% Loss
Ted Cruz[83] United States Senate election in Texas, 2012 56.8% 56.46% Win
Jeff Flake[80] United States Senate election in Arizona, 2012 69.1% 49.2% Win
Thomas Massie[84] Kentucky's 4th congressional district Win
Steve King[85] Iowa's 4th congressional district Win
Ron DeSantis[86] Florida's 6th congressional district Win
Kevin Cramer[87] North Dakota's At-large congressional district Win
Tom Cotton[88] Arkansas's 4th congressional district Win
Mark Neumann[83] United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 2012 Loss
Carl Wimmer[89] Utah's 4th congressional district Loss
Don Stenberg[90] United States Senate election in Nebraska, 2012 Loss
Matt Salmon[91] Arizona's 5th congressional district Win
Scott Keadle[92] North Carolina's 8th congressional district Loss
David M. McIntosh[93] Indiana's 5th congressional district Loss
Ron Gould Arizona's 4th congressional district Loss
Keith Rothfus[94] Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district 52% Win

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  61. "Club for Growth Endorses Four More Candidates" (9-28-2006). Retrieved on 12 February 2013. 
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  63. "Arizona Delegates Watch From Afar as Front-Runners Win Close Primaries". Retrieved on 23 January 2013. 
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  75. SUMMARY RESULTS: General Election - November 2, 2010
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  78. Humphrey, Tom (2-10-2010). "Club for Growth Endorses Robin Smith in 3rd District". Retrieved on 13 February 2013. 
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  85. "Club for Growth PAC Congratulates Steve King". Club for Growth. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/news/?id=1171&v=pr. Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
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  87. "Club for Growth PAC Endorses Kevin Cramer In ND-AL". Club for Growth. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/pr/?postID=1086. Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
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  89. Trygstad, Carl (12-1-2011). "Club for Growth Endorses Wimmer in New Utah District". Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
  90. Sullivan, Sean. "Club for Growth Endorses Stenberg". Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
  91. Livingston, Abby (12-1-2011). "Club for Growth Backs Matt Salmon for Congress". Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
  92. Ordonez, Franco (5-26-2012). "Scott Keadle boosted by power-wielding conservative group". Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
  93. "Club for Growth PAC Endorses David McIntosh for Congress". Club for Growth. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/pr/?postID=1048. Retrieved on 22 January 2013. 
  94. "Club for Growth PAC Endorses Keith Rothfus for U.S. Congress". Club for Growth. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/news/?id=1067&v=pr. Retrieved on 13 February 2013. 

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