Money and Democracy

Published — December 20, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Tea Party ‘super PAC’ going after Sen. Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, accompanied by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., center, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., left. Hatch says a tax on medical devices will increase insurance premiums and the cost of care. Lawrence Jackson/The Associated Press

Groups spends more than $40,000 to oppose the long-time Republican from Utah


An outside spending group affiliated with the conservative Tea Party movement is targeting long-time Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012 for not being conservative enough.

FreedomWorks for America is a so-called “super PAC,” meaning it can accept unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and labor unions and spend the funds on advertising and other expenditures aimed at electing or defeating a candidate.

On Tuesday, the group reported to the Federal Election Commission that it spent more than $43,000 on expenditures to oppose Hatch, including payments to a Utah communications firm for research, a D.C.-based polling firm, an Oregon-based yard sign manufacturer and a North Carolina online services company.

The group is affiliated with the conservative FreedomWorks 501(c4) nonprofit group, which also spends money on campaign advertising, but is not required to reveal its donors.

Ryan Hecker, a spokesman for the super PAC, told iWatch News the group opposes what it calls Hatch’s support for increased federal government spending and support of the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The organization is required to reveal its donors, but is too new to file a report. The super PAC launched in September and promised a grass roots approach to organizing rather than a massive ad buy.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), chairman of FreedomWorks, said “Our Super PAC is not about buying television ads, it’s about engaging the American public, and getting them outside talking to their neighbors and putting up yard signs.”

Armey said the group wants to “build a grassroots army of active volunteers” to knock off Democrats but also to “hold Republicans accountable to the principles upon which they got elected.” The group’s YouTube page does include three videos, but none mention Hatch.

Hecker says his group is working to provide Utah-based activists with the resources they need to defeat Hatch, including polling, focus groups, online phone-banking, direct mail, door-hangers, and palm cards.

That total also included $7,762 in payments from the super PAC to the FreedomWorks Inc., the nonprofit for “staff and overhead.” The groups share office space and some staff.

Hecker declined to identify the group’s donors.

The affiliated FreedomWorks Inc. was formed in 2004 when Empower America merged with Citizens for a Sound Economy. Billionaire David Koch, an energy executive, political activist, and 1980 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, was chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy and a co-founder.

A spokesman for Sen. Hatch did not respond to a request for comment by publish time.

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