The leading super PAC for Senate Republicans, the Senate Leadership Fund, raised an average of more than $1 million every day in the third quarter, bringing in $111 million, a huge infusion of funds that is already being used to pummel Democratic candidates on the airwaves in more than a half-dozen key Senate races.
The financial windfall, shared first with The New York Times, nearly doubled the total amount of money previously raised by the group during this midterm cycle, which began last year. The political action committee, which is closely aligned with Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, will report on its next Federal Election Commission filing, which is due Saturday, that it has raised $221.4 million to date in the 2022 cycle.
“Our donors are fired up about slamming the brakes on Joe Biden’s disastrous left-wing agenda,” Steven Law, the former chief of staff to McConnell who runs the super PAC, said in a statement. “We are hammering Democrats on inflation, gas prices, taxes and crime.”
In Senate battleground states, the group’s ads have been hard to avoid.
Federal records show the super PAC has already spent $148 million, as of Wednesday, to influence Senate races in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
The group canceled an ad reservation in Arizona, where Republican Blake Masters is challenging Senator Mark Kelly, a Democrat, but Axios reported Wednesday that the group was in discussions with Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist, about splitting the cost of returning to the airwaves there.
The Senate Leadership Fund has spent roughly double the amount as the leading Democratic super PAC devoted to Senate races, known as the Senate Majority PAC, but Democratic candidates in almost every key contest have outraised Republican candidates.
The Republican super PAC declined to discuss who its biggest donors were in recent months, other than to say it received a $20 million transfer from an affiliated nonprofit group, One Nation, which does not disclose its contributors.
Through June, the super PAC’s two biggest disclosed contributors had been two Wall Street CEOs: Stephen A. Schwarzman of Blackstone and Kenneth Griffin of Citadel. Each had given $10 million.
New York Times
Utah senator asks rival Romney for support
The appeal carried the unmistakable whiff of desperation. That it was delivered on live television only heightened the dramatic tension.
A Utah Republican, Senator Mike Lee, was publicly begging a fellow Utah Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, for a simple act of solidarity: an endorsement in his campaign for reelection. One that, in Lee’s telling, could amount to no less than an act of salvation, as he battles for political survival against an unexpectedly fierce challenger, independent candidate Evan McMullin.
“Please, get on board,” Lee said, looking into the camera and addressing Romney by name Tuesday night. “Help me win reelection. Help us do that. You can get your entire family to donate to me.”
But Lee and Romney are not merely fellow Utah Republicans. And this was not just any television show.
Lee and Romney were — and evidently remain — antagonists in the lingering drama of Jan. 6, 2021. Lee played a key role in support of former president Donald Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election and cling to power. Romney was a stalwart opponent of it.
And Lee was making his appeal to Romney on Tuesday night on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program — a venue in which Romney has been routinely roasted, for years, before audiences of millions of conservative viewers.
The irony of the moment seemed lost on both Lee and the show’s host, though that may have been a bit of a shared ruse.
Either way, audacity was in abundant supply.
Lee’s plea for Romney’s assistance, after all, came after Lee’s votes in opposition to three bipartisan bills that Romney helped to pass, on infrastructure, gun safety, and semiconductor manufacturing. Lee denounced the infrastructure bill, for one, as “an orgiastic convulsion of federal spending.”
The SOS to his fellow senator also appeared to ignore Lee’s own actions of intraparty sabotage, dating back a dozen years: Lee refused to endorse Romney’s 2018 Senate campaign. He declined in 2012 to endorse the senior senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, even as his own chief of staff openly predicted Hatch’s defeat. And Lee first won his own seat in 2010 by orchestrating the defeat of a popular Republican senator, Robert Bennett, during the state’s Republican convention.
What Lee was not ignoring, however, was a new poll published in Utah’s Deseret News this week showing Lee leading McMullin 41 percent to 37 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
Self-described moderates made up a plurality of those undecided voters, as the center of Utah’s political spectrum seems to be agonizing over which candidate to coalesce behind.
New York Times
Bushes to be honored for work fighting HIV/AIDS
WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are returning to Washington next month to be recognized for their work on combating HIV/AIDS worldwide.
The US Global Leadership Coalition announced Thursday that it will honor Bush and the former first lady on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, during its annual Tribute Celebration.
The Bushes will receive the Global Leadership Award for establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in 2003. Bush announced the program in his State of the Union address in January 2003. He signed legislation to establish it in May 2003.
Liz Schrayer, the coalition’s president and CEO, called the AIDS relief program “one of the most significant achievements in global health in our lifetime.” In a statement, she also praised the Bushes for “transformational leadership” in launching it nearly 20 years ago.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation in history to address a single disease.
Since the program’s inception, the US government has spent nearly $100 billion to respond to HIV/AIDS worldwide, saving 21 million lives, preventing millions of infections, and making strides to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic in more than 50 countries, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, according to the State Department.
The Bushes were most recently in Washington in September. Laura Bush was a guest of President Biden and first lady Jill Biden at a White House music event on the South Lawn featuring Elton John, a longtime advocate for people with HIV/AIDS.
The US.Global Leadership Coalition is a network of 500 businesses and nongovernmental organizations, national security and foreign policy experts, and business, religious, academic, military and community leaders from across the United States who support investing in development and diplomacy alongside defense.