The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) raised $6.3 million in the second half of 2023, with big tobacco leading all contributors, as revealed by a Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) analysis of its IRS year-end report filed yesterday.
Reynolds American topped all donors to the Republican pay-to-play group with $262,800 in contributions, followed by Phillip Morris International with a $250,000 contribution. The Hurst Group, a real estate company in Mississippi, also funneled $250,000 to RAGA over the same period.
Rounding out the top five RAGA contributors between July and December of last year were the tech giant Amazon ($150,235) and the Texas-based fossil fuel company Valero ($150,000). With its latest contribution, Velero brought its total 2023 contributions to RAGA to $225,000.
With all RAGA IRS filings in for 2023, The Concord Fund — a dark money group affiliated with the Trump “judge whisperer” Leonard Leo who has played a leading role in moving the federal court system to the Right in recent years — remains its top funder, having made a $1-million contribution in the first half of the year, as CMD first reported in August.
The Concord Fund has injected $16.8 million into RAGA since the Republican group was first registered with the IRS in 2014.
RAGA continues to pay Leo’s PR firm Creative Response Concepts (doing business as CRC Advisors) $7,500 per month for “consulting,” a contract that began in 2020, according to CMD’s analysis of RAGA’s IRS filings.
RAGA’s only political contribution disclosed on its most recent filing was for $100,000 given to the Republican Party of Louisiana in September. RAGA endorsed then Solicitor General Liz Murrill before the Republican primary and she went on to be elected attorney general in November.
“From state courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court, there are few litigators in the conservative legal movement who have had as big of an impact as Liz Murrill,” said RAGA Executive Director Peter Bisbee. “I have worked alongside Liz for nearly a decade and am proud that one of our nation’s best attorneys will be able to continue her important work defending the Constitution and rule of law as the next attorney general of Louisiana.”
Ten states are holding elections for state attorneys general in 2024. Republicans now hold the offices in five: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Utah, and West Virginia. In three of those states, incumbents Todd Rokita (R-IN), Andrew Bailey (R-MO), and Austin Knudsen (R-MT) are running to retain their seats.
In Missouri, Leo is bankrolling his former lieutenant Will Scharf, a former federal prosecutor who worked briefly as a vice president at CRC Advisors, in his bid to challenge Bailey, as CMD previously reported.
In 2022, Bisbee had spurned Bailey, his RAGA colleague, and contributed $250 to Scharf instead.
In conjunction with its 501(c)(4) affiliate Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) and its 501(c)(3) affiliate Center for Law and Policy, RAGA runs a cash-for-influence operation that coordinates the official actions of Republican state attorneys general and sells its corporate funders access to them and their staff.