PAC Profile: The Tea Party doesn’t need unlimited money to make a splash


It's hard to believe given this year's headlines, but not all of the political action committees making an impact on this year's campaign are super PACs.

While most of the attention has focused on the entities that can accept and spend unlimited money, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, a traditional political action committee that's abiding by federal limits on contributions and spending, got plenty of attention when it launched an ad blitz before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses that accused GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney of being a covert liberal.

Ryan Gill, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama's vice president, told Sunlight that the group remains "a traditional PAC with a small donor model," meaning it abides by dollar limits on contributions set by the Federal Election Commission. To organize as a super PAC, a committee  must inform the FEC by letter — such as the one filed with its statement of organization by Winning Our Future, a pro-Newt Gingrich group — that it intends to take advantage of recent court decisions allowing some groups to collect and spend unlimited funds for political campaigns. 

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama has not yet officially endorsed a Republican presidential candidate, but the ads it has posted to YouTube suggest that just about anyone but the current president and the “non-conservative” Romney would do.

On its website, the PAC says it's taking aim at the “skyrocketing debt being left to future generations, unprecedented power grabs and an economy perpetually dragged down by so-called stimulus plans." The PAC was created by the same Republican operatives behind Tea Party Express, making the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama one of the few super PACs with clearly traceable ties to the Tea Party.

Gill told Sunlight that his group continues to monitor the GOP presidential primary fight but may invest its funds elsewhere, such as the effort by Democrats to recall Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose efforts to slash the budget and curb the power of public employee unions have made him a hero to Tea Party activists.

Roll Call describes the group was a “sister organization” to Tea Party Express, nothing that the two “share an office and use the same mailing list to promote their events and raise money.” Both groups are projects of Our Country Deserves Better, another Republican Party PAC which opposed Obama in 2008.

To date, for the 2012 election cycle, the campaign has spent some $284,000. The group has spent approximately $66,246 within the last two weeks on blast emails and online advertisements discrediting the president.