WASHINGTON -- The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee connected to Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, raised its largest-ever monthly total for a non-election year this August while running a campaign pressuring Republican senators and representatives to defund Obamacare.
The PAC raised more than $1.5 million in August, according to its Federal Election Commission filing, with $1.3 million of that sum coming from small donors giving under $200 each. The small-donor haul is the largest-ever monthly small-donor total brought in by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
This fundraising bonanza came as the PAC joined efforts by the Heritage Foundation and its sister 501(c)(4) nonprofit Heritage Action, along with a series of tea party groups, to defund Obamacare. Money was pumped into an advertising and publicity campaign that, with the vocal support of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), sought to block all spending measures if they did not defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
This campaign culminated on Friday with the House voting to strip funding for Obamacare in its version of the continuing resolution needed to keep the government open through Dec. 16. This vote sets up a fight with the Senate and a potential government shutdown. Senate Republicans have warned that they lack the votes to pass a resolution defunding the health care law, and Republicans and others have called out the anti-Obamacare push led by DeMint as merely a fundraising exercise.
Former National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh wrote in U.S. News & World Report, "You see, money begets TV ads which begets even more money for these groups' personal coffers. Pointing fingers and attacking Republicans is apparently a very profitable fundraising business."
The money haul has been aided by the Senate Conservatives Fund's Don't Fund Obamacare website, which has acted as a hub for the "defund Obamacare" campaign. The website helped collect more than 1.5 million signatures to zero out the health care law. In turn, it benefited from robo-calls featuring Cruz asking for money for the larger effort.
The Senate Conservatives Fund ran ads targeting many Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). On Sept. 17, the group announced it would expand into targeting House Republicans on the issue of defunding Obamacare.
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President Lyndon B. Johnson's legendary arm-twisting and a Congress dominated by his fellow Democrats lead to creation of two landmark government health programs: Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
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President George W. Bush persuades Congress to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare in a major expansion of the program for older people. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes a sweeping health care plan in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She loses to Obama, who has a less comprehensive plan. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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With no Republican support, Congress passes the measure, designed to extend health care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican opponents scorned the law as "Obamacare." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
On a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama himself embraces the term "Obamacare" and says the law shows "I do care." (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)