Nonprofit profile: Ending Spending

Quick stats on the nonprofit group, supporting fiscal conservatives

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Type of organization: 501(c)(4)

Employer Identification Number: 27-2189012

Supports: Fiscally conservative candidates

Founded: 2010

Location: Washington, D.C.

Website: endingspending.com

Social media: Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel

Finances:

For the group's activities during calendar year 2010:

  • Total revenue: $1.3 million
  • Total expenses: $1.2 million
  • Net assets: $46,000

IRS Form 990 filing: 2010

Principals:

  • J. Joe Ricketts (founder): Ricketts is the founder of brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and a family trust owns the Chicago Cubs. He also founded the super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund.
  • Brian Baker (chairman and general counsel): Baker served as an advisor to former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. He is the president of Ending Spending Action Fund.
  • Stephanie Mesick (Omaha office executive director, director of outreach): Mesick is new to the political scene. She spent her career in the private sector and has no record of political giving.

Profile:

Ricketts founded the nonprofit in 2010 as "Taxpayers Against Earmarks," but when Congress officially banned earmarks a few months later, the group was renamed "Ending Spending Inc." and shifted its focus to the national debt and government spending.

Ending Spending calls itself nonpartisan, and indeed, Ricketts is not registered with any political party, according to the New York Times, although he has given more than $2.4 million to political candidates and parties since 1999, overwhelmingly to Republicans and conservative groups, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Likewise, the nonprofit frequently aligns itself with Republicans.

The group’s website classifies members of Congress as “spending sheriffs” (supporters of federal budget caps) and “budget bandits” (“out-of-control” spenders). In February, Ending Spending, the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation and several other groups filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the individual mandate provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

It also engages in "electioneering communications" — issue ads that mention a candidate but stop short of urging a yes or no vote.

During the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Ending Spending reported one electioneering communication, for their video series “On the Trail with Ending Spending,” for which Ricketts himself put up the full $357,500, according to a report from the Federal Election Commission. The series of videos shows 10 presidential candidates responding to questions from Ending Spending on the federal budget, entitlement reform and government spending.

In November, Ending Spending also spent $515,000 on ads critical of Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, who ran — and won — in Indiana's U.S. Senate race against Republican Richard Mourdock.

Ending Spending has an affiliated super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund, which gained national attention when the storyboard of a controversial ad was leaked to the New York Times.

See more data on Ending Spending Inc. at OpenSecrets.org.

Advertisements:

  • Rather than call out particular candidates, Ending Spending’s “Budget Bandits” ad simply told voters to replace the “budget bandits” with “common sense elected officials,” and thus avoided the need to make any disclosure reports to the FEC.
  • Next Time” recalled the sex scandals of former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and several other politicians, arguing that these distractions meant that they’re not taking the “spending crisis” seriously.
  • Interesting sound effects punctuate “U.S. Borrows $40k Every Second,” which urged voters to contact Congress to express support for spending cuts and budget reform.

Last updated: Jan. 22, 2013