Nonprofit profile: Club for Growth Inc.

Quick stats on the nonprofit group, supporting conservatives

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Type of organization: 501(c)(4)

Supports: Conservative candidates

Location: Washington, D.C.

Founded: 1999

Website: clubforgrowth.org

Social media: YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Facebook page (all accounts jointly operated with Club for Growth Action)

Finances:

For the group's fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010:

  • Total Revenue: $5.8 million
  • Total Expenses: $4.6 million
  • Net assets: $2.3 million

IRS Form 990 filing: 2009

Principals:

  • Chris Chocola (president): Chocola runs the Club for Growth network. He was CEO at CTB, a manufacturing corporation in Indiana and he represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in U.S. House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007.
  • Chuck Pike (executive vice president): Pike held leadership positions at the Neumann Companies, a nature preservation company in Wisconsin, and Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit in Virginia that focuses on military service and veterans. Pike was chief of staff in Washington to several congressmen, including Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who was once president of the Club for Growth.
  • Stephen Moore (founder): Now on the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Moore began his economics career at the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, both libertarian think tanks. He founded the Club for Growth and served as its president until 2004. He also founded the Free Enterprise Fund and was a contributor to the National Review.

Profile:

Founder Stephen Moore started the Club for Growth — now a network of nonprofits and political committees — in 1999 to advance free-market, conservative ideals.

The Club focuses specifically on issues such as reducing the income tax, budget reform, a flat tax, tort reform, school choice and deregulation, according to its website.

Club for Growth Inc., a politically active nonprofit, also has a sister super PAC called Club for Growth Action, a traditional political action committee called Club for Growth PAC and several state spinoffs, including groups in South Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Missouri. Groups in Arizona, Virginia, Kansas and California have disbanded, according to a spokesman.

As a “social welfare” nonprofit organization, Club for Growth Inc. is not required to disclose its donors. While it can take and spend unlimited sums of money on independent campaign activities, the group cannot legally make election activities its “primary” purpose, according to tax law.

While the nonprofit’s donors are a mystery, several of the top donors to the super PAC, which does disclose its donors, are members of Club for Growth’s board of directors or leadership council.

The board and council members have ties to a free-market, conservative network funded in large part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch:

  • Frayda Levin is also director at Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by David Koch. She and her husband, Ken Levy, are part of the Kochs’ “million-dollar club.” That means they have given $1 million or more to Koch-supported causes and were thanked personally by the Koch brothers at a private retreat in 2011, Mother Jones reported. The couple is also a major donor to the Cato Institute, which was founded by David Koch.
  • Howie Rich, a real estate developer, sits on the board of the Cato Institute.
  • John W. Childs, a private equity investor, Jerry Hayden, former president of Peacock Engineering, and Virginia James, a New Jersey-based investor, are all part of the “million-dollar club.”
  • John Bryan, a retired oil tycoon, was a featured speaker at the 2011 Koch retreat in Palm Springs, Calif.

Moore began his career in the Kochs’ backyard, first as budget expert at the Heritage Foundation and a senior economics fellow at the Cato Institute.

Larry Kudlow, the host of CNBC’s "The Kudlow Report," is a member of the leadership council and has had Club for Growth President Chris Chocola on his show several times.

Like the super PAC, Club for Growth Inc. has spent money in favor of tea party candidates, including Richard Mourdock, who beat longtime incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The group also paid for ads critical of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The nonprofit's most recent independent expenditure is from July, when the group aired ads supporting Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake in his U.S. Senate bid against fellow Republican Wil Cardon. Flake prevailed in an August GOP primary.

Advertisements:

  • No More” appeared to blame incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana for the nation's $15 trillion debt. Club for Growth Action, the super PAC, ran ads opposing Lugar. Richard Mourdock defeated the longtime moderate senator in Indiana’s GOP Senate primary.
  • Debt” also appeared to blame Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, for the debt and for supporting the "Wall Street bailout." In the state's Republican primary, Hatch handily defeated Dan Liljenquist, who was backed many tea party activists.
  • For more ads, see Club for Growth’s YouTube page.

Last updated: Jan. 22, 2013