Congressional Leadership Fund
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The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is a Super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Super PAC, which is closely linked to former House Speaker John Boehner and House GOP leadership, was founded in 2011 and spent nearly $10 million in the 2012 cycle electing Republican candidates. Following Boehner's resignation from the U.S. Congress and the election of Paul D. Ryan as Speaker of the House, Congressional Leadership Fund has become closely linked to Ryan.
In The Guardian's ranking of the five most bigoted ads during the 2018 election campaign, four of the five were ads by the CLF. During the 2018 mid-term elections. CLF produced a number of false ads, including two that falsely linked two Democratic candidates with terrorists. In one ad, the CLF depicted an African-American Rhodes scholar with a Harvard Law degree as a foul-mouthed and "disturbingly radical" rapper, and misrepresented lyrics from his rap career.
- Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman Emeritus
- Fred Malek, Chairman
- Former Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, Board Member
- Former Representative Vin Weber, Board Member
- Charlie Spies, Senior Adviser (Former)
- Mason Fink, Board Member & Finance Director
- Corwin Albert "Corry" Bliss, Executive Director
- William Inman, Deputy Executive Director
- Patrick Lee, National Field Director
- Ruth Guerra, Communications Director
- Trent Edwards, Development Director (Former)
- Caleb Crosby, Treasurer
The board members are all members of the board of the American Action Network. The Super PAC is currently headed by Corwin Albert "Corry" Bliss who serves as Executive Director to both CLF and the linked American Action Network.
2012 Election Cycle
According to records from the Federal Elections Commission, during the 2012 election cycle, CLF raised $11.3 million and spent $10.8 million. Of the 19 congressional races where CLF and the affiliated American Action Network paid for television ads, Republicans won 12 of the contests. The non-partisan Sunlight Foundation reported that CLF had a 58.05% return on investment in 2012.
2014 Election Cycle
According to records from the Federal Election Commission, during the 2014 election cycle, CLF raised $12.6 million and spent $12.56 million.
2016 Election Cycle
According to records from the Federal Elections Commission, during the 2016 election cycle, CLF raised just over $51.05 million and spent $50.05 million.
During the 2016 election, CLF used stolen hacked material in attacks ads against a Democratic candidate.
2018 Election Cycle
In 2018, the CLF was described as "the highest-spending super PAC seeking to sway House races in the upcoming midterms." CLF was the largest Republican outside spender in the special election to fill Montana's at-large seat vacated by then Rep. Ryan Zinke after he was appointed to serve as Secretary of Interior by President Donald Trump. CLF invested $2.5 million in Montana to promote Greg Gianforte to the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Elect Gianforte was charged with assaulting a journalist at a rally on Wednesday, May 24th on the eve of the special election. Three of the state's largest newspapers, The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian and the Independent Record, rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte shortly following the incident. Rep. Elect Gianforte is scheduled to appear in court before June 7th, where he will have to answer an accusation that he "purposely or knowingly" caused "bodily injury to another." Rep. Elect Gianforte won slightly more than 50 percent of the vote to about 44 percent for Mr. Quist, the Democrat. President Trump won Montana by about 20 percentage points. On June 12, 2017, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with a $85 court fee.
According to records from the Federal Elections Commission, as of June 6, 2017, Congressional Leadership Fund had made independent expenditures totaling just over $2.94 million in the Georgia 6th Congressional District Special Election against Democrat John Ossoff. CLF has pledged $6.5 million to the special election in an attempt to keep the seat in control of the GOP after former HHS Secretary Tom Price vacated the seat when he was nominated by President Donald Trump to head the Department of Health and Human Services. CLF has repeatedly made the claim that San Francisco "Bay area liberals have given more to Jon Ossoff's campaign than people in Georgia.", a statement that has been rated false by the fact-checking website PolitiFact. A simple search through the Federal Elections Commission verifies PolitiFact's reporting.
The super PAC also made headlines in 2017 after it released its first ad against Democrat Jon Ossoff, with an ad featuring college video footage of Ossoff dressed up as Han Solo of Star Wars. The ad was the first significant spending from any outside GOP group.
In August 2018, Democratic candidate Abigail Spanberger accused CLF of being illicitly in possession of an unredacted federal security clearance application, which contains sensitive personal information, and that CLF had provided a copy of the sensitive information to at least one news outlet.
In The Guardian's ranking of the five most bigoted ads during the 2018 election campaign, four of the five were ads by the CLF. During the 2018 mid-term elections. CLF produced a number of false ads, including two that falsely linked two Democratic candidates with terrorists. In one ad, the CLF depicted an African-American Rhodes scholar with a Harvard Law degree as a foul-mouthed and "disturbingly radical" rapper, and misrepresented lyrics from his rap career. CLF obtained the unredacted security clearance application of Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer and Democratic congressional candidate, and then used it for political purposes. CLF also sent the highly sensitive document to at least one media outlet. CLF then ran ads trying to link Spanberger to terrorist activity.
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