Club for Growth
The Club for Growth is a 501(c)(4) political organization and an affiliated political action committee (PAC) that raises money for candidates who support a low-tax and limited-government agenda. The group claims over 40,000 members.
In the 2002 Congressional races, 17 out of 19 candidates endorsed by the organization's PAC won. It also endorsed Mark Sanford in the South Carolina gubernatorial Republican primary. He defeated Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler.
In 2004, the Club for Growth's PAC caused a stir within the Republican Party by endorsing and heavily supporting U.S. Representative Pat Toomey, who challenged incumbent Senator]] [[Arlen Specter in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. The organization 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. Toomey barely lost the race against Specter, 51%-49%, due in large part to President Bush, the RNC, and Sen. Santorum all supporting the incumbent. Afterwards, Toomey accepted his current position as President of the Club for Growth.
The club invented the "RINO Watch" list to monitor "Republican office holders around the nation who have advanced egregious anti-growth, anti-freedom or anti-free market policies." (RINO is an acronym for Republican In Name Only.) The list has focused on Republicans who voted against tax reforms and budget cuts supported by the Club.
In addition, the Club for Growth also makes independent expenditures encouraging certain moderate Republicans to vote more conservatively (i.e., running ads against Senators George Voinovich of Ohio, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island after these Senators objected to certain aspects of President Bush's tax cuts).
On September 19, 2005, the Federal Election Commission filed suit against the Club for Growth for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act for failing to register as a political action committee in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 congressional elections. . In September, 2007 the Club for Growth agreed to pay $350,000 in civil penalties. The agreement, if approved by a federal judge, would mark the end of the lawsuit.
After a good deal of electoral success in 2004, the Club continued its policy of supporting pro-growth candidates for federal office, especially during contested primaries. Freshmen U.S. Congressmen Adrian Smit (R-NE), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Bill Sali (R-ID), and Tim Walberg (R-MI) all won their heavily contested primary elections in large part because of the Club's involvement. In fact, Rep. Walberg defeated moderate incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz in the August 2006 Michigan primary. Schwarz was backed by Pres. Bush, Sen. McCain, the NRCC, and almost all of the state's Republican establishment. The Club for Growth criticized Schwarz for a number of liberal views on fiscal issues including his votes against the elimination of earmarks in appropriations bills and his support of higher taxes while in the Michigan Legislature. He was the only incumbent Republican congressman defeated in a primary that year.
The Club was also able to boast of successfully supporting the reelection of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in a heavily fought race against liberal former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.
The most high profile race of the year for The Club was their support of conservative Cranston, Rhode Island mayor Stephen Laffey against liberal incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee. Chaffee was able to hang on for a 54% to 46% victory in large part because of Democrats that crossed over to vote for him and the aid of Sen. Elizabeth Dole and the NRSC, President Bush, and the rest of the party's establishment in Rhode Island. The campaign none the less typified conservatives' anger toward the Republican party and was an early warning of a difficult general election. In Nov. 2006 Chaffee was defeated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.
For the 2008 election cycle The Club has endorsed the reelection of Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) and is supporting State Sen. Andrew P. Harris in his quest to defeat 'RINO' congressman Wayne Gilchrest in Maryland. The Club has also been critical of Mike Huckabee.
- Club for Growth
- Conservative ‘Club’ Wins With a Broader Battle Plan, by Marie Horrigan, CQPolitics, July 31, 2006
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