Republicans in Congress are attempting to eliminate far-right pressure groups and purge the party of its more extreme Tea Party elements. The New York Times reported that FreedomWorks director Matt Kibbe complained of Republican Party stalwarts who are threatening to freeze out donors who give money to Tea Party groups.
“I’ve been told by a number of donors to our super PAC that they’ve received calls from senior Republican senators,” said Kibbe to the Times.
The donors, he said, all have the same message: “I can’t give to you because I’ve been told I won’t have access to Republican leadership.”
The party establishment, Kibbe said, has started “playing hardball.”
FreedomWorks is one of the controversial 501(c)4 groups made possible by the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling in 2010. So-called “social advocacy” groups are allowed to keep their donors secret with no limits on individual contributions.
Sadly for many on the right, the dark money groups failed to have much of an impact in the 2012 election, squandering hundreds of millions of dollars on ultra-conservative candidates who frightened off voters with their retrogressive views on social justice issues, women’s rights, and minority voting.
FreedomWorks in particular has come in for criticism of its lavish spending habits. The group’s top brass treated themselves to deluxe Las Vegas weekends and installed an in-house craft beer bar at the company’s offices, all on donor money.
One year after the 2012 election, the group has found itself deeply in debt, torn by internecine squabbling, and floundering politically as the Tea Party’s influence wanes.
Other groups, like the Senate Conservatives Fund — which targets Republican Senators deemed insufficiently far to the right — are finding that their targets aren’t going down without a struggle.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), faced with a primary challenger at home, is pushing other Senate Republicans to divest themselves of their ties to the Tea Party and distance themselves from the right-wing fringe.
Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins said that McConnell’s party putsch is as bad as the now-debunked IRS scandal.
“He’s essentially joined the I.R.S. in targeting conservative groups,” Hoskins said. “It’s all meant to intimidate.”