Blog — Elections

February 11, 2015

Republican AG Group Bails Out Super PAC That Targeted Tancredo

By Matt Corley

Tom TancredoLast July, CREW identified how the Republican Governors Association (RGA) apparently took sides in Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial primary by funneling money to third party groups through the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).  The way the scheme worked was simple.  The RAGA contributed $155,000 to the Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity (CJO), a federal super PAC that funded state-level attacks against former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), a candidate in the primary.  Soon after, the RGA gave $175,000 to the RAGA, seemingly paying the RAGA back for its big CJO contribution.

The relationship between the RAGA and CJO appeared to end after Mr. Tancredo lost the primary.  CJO moved on to a House race in Michigan and the RAGA turned its attention to electing Republican attorneys general.  A new year-end campaign report, however, reveals that the RAGA contributed to CJO one more time in December 2014, giving the super PAC just enough money to pay off its debts.

After the election, CJO found itself more than $20,000 in debt, owing payments to two law firms, a consulting firm, and its compliance company.  On December 9, the RAGA gave CJO $23,000.  The next day, CJO promptly paid off all of its debts.  Thanks to the RAGA, CJO ended the year with no debt and more than $3,000 cash on hand.

With its debts paid off, it is unknown whether CJO will continue to intervene in primaries, but one aftereffect of the group’s foray into Colorado’s gubernatorial primary is clear: Mr. Tancredo now has it out for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chaired the RGA at the time of CJO’s intervention in the primary.  Mr. Tancredo was outraged when he learned about the source of the money used to challenge him, demanding Gov. Christie “come clean” about the RGA’s role in the campaign.  In November 2014, Mr. Tancredo launched a super PAC aimed at derailing Gov. Christie’s presidential ambitions.

So far though, the Stop Chris Christie PAC has done little to actually stop Gov. Christie beyond tweeting out unflattering stories about the governor.  Since its inception, the PAC has raised barely more than $1,000.  If the PAC eventually finds itself in debt, unlike CJO, it is unlikely the RAGA will offer a bailout.

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