PAC profile: Ending Spending Action Fund

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Type of organization: Super PAC

Supports candidate: Conservative

Founded: Oct. 5, 2010

Website: endingspendingfund.com

Social media: YouTube channel

Principals:

  • J. Joe Ricketts (founder): Ricketts is the founder of brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and his family owns the Chicago Cubs. He is also the founder of the super PAC’s associated nonprofit, Ending Spending, Inc.
  • Brian Baker (president): Baker served as an advisor to former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. He is also the chairman and general counsel to Ending Spending, Inc.
  • Nancy Watkins (treasurer): Watkins and her husband Robert are based in Tampa, Fla., but have developed a reputation as the unofficial CPAs to the GOP. She has handled the accounting for dozens of federal and state political committees, including Ending Spending Action Fund Wisconsin.

Profile:

Ending Spending Action Fund first flexed its muscles in the U.S. Senate Republican primary in Nebraska. With $255,000 in last-minute ads supporting Deb Fischer and attacking her opponents, Ending Spending Action Fund helped her clinch the nomination, the Center for Public Integrity reported.

The campaign by the super PAC marked founder J. Joe Ricketts’ entrance into the 2012 election, leading to worry by watchdogs that Ricketts was “buying” access, as the Center later reported. Ricketts would go on to give the Ending Spending Action Fund nearly $12.5 million before Election Day in November.

On Sept. 17, the super PAC announced plans to launch a $12 million fall advertising campaign — $10 million supporting Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential race and $2 million on congressional races, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The super PAC was founded alongside the 501(c)(4) nonprofit Ending Spending, Inc. (formerly known as Taxpayers Against Earmarks). Over the course of 2012, the super PAC received in-kind contributions from Ending Spending Inc., totaling about $176,000.

Both groups call themselves nonpartisan, and indeed, Ricketts is not registered with any political party, according to the New York Times. But the organization aligns itself with the GOP.

Ending Spending Action Fund came to national prominence when the New York Times obtained a $10 million ad proposal pitched to Ricketts that focused on the race-infused rhetoric of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Ricketts publicly rejected the ad. Romney, the Obama campaign and many other politicos also denounced it, the New York Times reported.

Ending Spending Action Fund threw itself into the Wisconsin recall election with its "1.91 committee" (a sort of state-level super PAC), Ending Spending Action Fund Wisconsin. According to filings with Wisconsin’s elections board, the Wisconsin fund spent $245,000 on an ad supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Unlike super PACs, 1.91 groups do not disclose their donors, so it is not known who bankrolled the pro-Walker ad, nor the source of the rest of the $24.5 million that 1.91 groups in Wisconsin spent, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation.

See more data on Ending Spending Action Fund at OpenSecrets.org.

Advertisements:

  • Him: Anyone but Bruning” was one of two last-minute ad buys designed to help Deb Fischer win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Nebraska.
  • Her: Rancher, Mother, Leader” capitalized on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Fischer and ran just before the GOP primary in Nebraska.
  • "Agents of Change” featured 2008 supporters of President Barack Obama explaining why they supported Republican Mitt Romney for president in 2012.
  • For more ads, see Ending Spending Action Fund’s YouTube page.

Last Updated: Jan. 15, 2013