The pay-to-play group Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) brought in $3.7 million in revenue between July and September, according to an Internal Revenue Service filing submitted this week.
The $3.7 million is less than the $4.9 million RAGA raised in the second quarter and the $4.8 million it rounded up in the first quarter of this year. This brings the total RAGA raised in the 2022 election cycle to $26.3 million.
In the November general election, 30 states will hold elections for attorney general. Of those 30, “12 seats will be competitive to at least some degree,” according to researchers at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Seven of those seats are currently held by Democrats and five by Republicans..
At its Summer National Meeting at the posh Broadmoor resort in the Colorado conservative bastion of Colorado Springs, RAGA held “candidate fundraisers” for 22 Republicans running in November, an email obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) shows.
RAGA spent $6.7 million last quarter, bringing its total expenditures so far this cycle to $19.6 million. Most of RAGA’s spending goes into independent expenditures attacking Democratic AG candidates in the competitive states.
RAGA’s largest direct contribution in the third quarter, $1,000,000, went to Brenna Bird, the Republican candidate for attorney general in Iowa, who is in a fierce battle to unseat the longest-serving state AG in the country, Tom Miller (D). The contribution is in addition to the $200,000 it gave Bird’s campaign in the second quarter. Iowa has no contribution limits.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to get Brenna across the finish line,” RAGA’s executive director Peter Bisbee told the Iowa Field Report.
RAGA’s next largest donation of $200,000 in the third quarter went to Florida incumbent Ashley Moody’s political action committee, on top of the $100,000 the pay-to-play group gave Moody in the second half of 2021. In Florida, candidates use PACs to circumvent the state’s relatively strict contributions limits ($3,000 for statewide office). RAGA is the largest contributor to the Friends of Ashley Moody PAC, which has raised $6.2 million. Moody’s campaign has raised $3 million.
Moody is facing off against Aramis Ayala (D) in November.
RAGA also contributed $5,000 to Oklahoma candidate Gentner Drummond’s campaign and $2,700 to Arkansas candidate Tim Griffin in the third quarter.
Drummond is not facing a challenger from the Democrats in November, and Griffin is widely expected to defeat Jesse Gibson, the Democrat challenging him for the open seat.
RAGA accepts unlimited contributions from corporations, individuals, and special interest groups such as Koch Industries, Altria, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, primarily to fund the campaigns of Republican candidates for attorneys general. Together with its affiliates Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) and the Center for Law and Policy (CLP), it runs a cash-for-influence operation that coordinates the official actions of Republican state attorneys general and sells its corporate funders access to those AGs and their staff.
In addition to funding campaigns directly, RAGA is also setting up local PACs to attack Democrats. In Wisconsin, its Wisconsin Freedom PAC purchased a $2.5 million ad buy that made up claims about his record.
In Minnesota, RAGA’s Minnesota for Freedom spent an estimated $1 million to air misleading ads that claim incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison is “anti-police.”
RAGA is also spending $150,000 for TV ads in western Michigan to boost Matthew DePerno’s campaign to unseat incumbent Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), the Detroit Free Press reports.
Although RAGA created and bankrolls the state “Freedom” PACs spending in those races, it did not report its funding for them in its latest IRS filing.
U.S. Chamber, Koch Industries, PhRMA Top RAGA Contributors in Third Quarter
Just as it did in the second quarter, the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) topped all other contributors with a $750,000 donation in the third quarter, bringing its total contributions to RAGA for the year to over $1.5 million.
An affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ILR focuses on advancing business-friendly legal reforms such as making class-action lawsuits more difficult to file and defending business interests in court.
Koch Industries’ $250,000 contribution to RAGA in the third quarter made it the second largest donor between July and September. GOP megadonor Charles Koch’s company has now given over half a million to RAGA in 2022.
Koch, who has been a major donor of RAGA over the years individually and through his companies, is also a client of RAGA. RAGA subscribes to i360, “Koch’s data mine,” for $4,000 a month, the IRS filing details.
Rounding out the top three donors in the third quarter is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) with its $130,000 contribution. PhRMA is the largest lobbying group for drug companies.