45Committee

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45Committee describes itself as an "independent organization committed to promoting reforms and solutions on a wide range of public policy issues." The 45Committee states that it advocates for tax reform, tax relief, strengthening national security, ensuring quality education, and fixing "what was broken in energy, immigration, health care, and more."[1] It has been described as a "pro-Trump nonprofit organization" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)[2] The 45Comittee organization was founded in 2015 to educate "Americans on possible solutions to the challenges facing the 45th President of the United States."

According to the Washington Post, 45Committee "is primarily funded" by conservative mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and Joe Ricketts.[3] But, as the advocacy group Issue One points out, the Adelson and Ricketts contributions have never been publicly disclosed.[4]

Brian Baker, the Ricketts family’s political adviser "is helping run" the 45Committee according to Politico.[5] Staff is not listed on the 45Committee website,[1] but IssueOne reports the Baker is the chairman and president of the group.[4]

45Committee is a dark money group, meaning that it avoids otherwise mandatory donor disclosure rules.[2][4] In 2017, nearly half of 45Comittee's funding came from a single donor. 90 percent of the groups more than $13 million in contributions came from three unknown donors.[2] 60 percent of the money the 45Committee raised from 2015 to 2017 was from four unidentified donors who all gave $7.5 million. At least $1 million came from seven other unknown donors during the same time period -- April 2015 and March 2017. During that time 45Committee raised $49 million. At least some of that money came from the Wellspring Committee ($750,000), Judicial Crisis Network ($250,000) and Ending Spending ($75,000)[4]

News and Controversies

Campaign Legal Center v. 45Committee, Inc.

Campaign Legal Center filed a suit against 45Committee for failing "to register as a political committee as required by federal law, thereby avoiding disclosure of its donors and spending". In the complaint document, CLC says, "IRS documents suggest 45Committee spent as much as $38 million on the 2016 election, approximately 84% of its total spending during the entire 2016 tax year". CLC filed an administrative complaint to the FEC in August 2018, but "the FEC has failed to act on the matter for more than three years".[6] (This complaint is the complaint mentioned in 45Committee, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission.)

45Committee, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission

45Committee filed a complaint against the FEC for a violation of the Freedom of Information Act by wrongful withholding of non-exempt records in February 2022. The records in question were related to an administrative complaint filed against 45Committee in 2018. In the complaint, they write, "45Committee believes that the six-member Commission held a vote on the administrative complaint long ago and lacked the necessary four votes to proceed with an investigation-- thus terminating the administrative complaint. 45Committee further believes that some at the FEC have arbitrarily and capriciously prevented the record of the Commission's dismissal vote to be released publicly, all in an effort to try to force 45Committee into civil litigation to defend against the administrative complaint's allegations without any input from the agency delegated exclusive enforcement authority over the federal campaign-finance laws."[7]

Political Spending

According to CREW, in 2016 45Committee spend $21.6 million on political activity mostly in advertisements supporting President Trump. During the period of April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 that spending dropped $1.7 million. But that $1.7 million spent was not all accounted for, according to CREW:[2]

"45Committee only reported spending $935,210 on independent expenditures during the period covered by the return, which were targeted in two special congressional elections. A search of FollowTheMoney.org, which aggregates state-level political spending data, for independent spending by 45Committee does not reveal any additional state spending. The organization also did not contribute to any federal super PACs during its 2017 tax year nor any political groups that report to the IRS, which are known as 527 organizations, according to a search of records."

In late 2017, 45Committee announced a $10 million dollar effort to back the tax reform. The combination of three seven-figure donors contributions were large enough to have entirely effort. The tax cut overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest people in America; "presumably, those three donors, whoever they may be, are pleased with the tax breaks their multi-million dollar contributions helped enact" according to CREW.[2]

Funding

45Committee is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of IRS filings. Here are the know funders of 45Committee:

  • American Economic Freedom Alliance: $100,000 (2018)
  • American Exceptionalism Institute: $3,000,000 (2019)
  • Judicial Crisis Network: $500,000 (2016, 2020)
  • Main Street Growth and Opportunity Coalition: $3,450,000 (2017)
  • Wellspring Committee: $750,000 (2015)

Grants Distributed

All grants below are listed in the 45Committee's IRS filings by year:

2018

2017

  • Arizona State University Foundation: $50,000
  • Citizens for a Sound Government: $35,000
  • The Jack Kemp Foundation: $100,000
  • The Tax Foundation: $50,000
  • Winning for Women: $250,000

2016

2015

  • Alliance for Freedom: $505,000
  • The John Hay Initiative: $150,000

Core Financials

2018[8]

  • Total Revenue: $15,625,000
  • Total Expenses: $16,906,177
  • Net Assets: $604,032

2017[9]

  • Total Revenue: $13,151,680
  • Total Expenses: $13,289,634
  • Net Assets: $1,885,209

2016[10]

  • Total Revenue: $46,362,986
  • Total Expenses: $45,556,334
  • Net Assets: $2,023,163

2015[11]

  • Total Revenue: $2,225,000
  • Total Expenses: $1,008,489
  • Net Assets: $1,216,511

Personnel

Board of Directors[8]

  • Brian Baker, President and Chairman
  • Sara Fagen
  • Rob Collins
  • Matt Well, Secretary
  • Maria Wojciechowski, Treasurer

Former directors

  • Brian O. Walsh, Chairman and President
  • Randy Scheunemann

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 47-3803487

45Committee, Inc.
P.O. Box 710993
Herndon, VA 20171

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 45Comittee Home organizational website, accessed March 7, 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Matt Corley NEARLY HALF OF PRO-TRUMP DARK MONEY GROUP’S FUNDING CAME FROM A SINGLE DONOR CREW, March 6, 2019
  3. James Hohmann The Daily 202: The tax bill is likely to become more popular after passage. Here’s how Republicans plan to sell it. Washington Post December 20, 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Issue One 45Committee database, accessed March 9, 2019
  5. KENNETH P. VOGEL Secret money to boost Trump Politico September 28, 2016
  6. CLC, CLC v. 45Committee, Inc., "CLC", April 22, 2022.
  7. Brett A. Shumate, Civil Action Complaint, "US District Court for the District of Columbia", February 25, 2022.
  8. 8.0 8.1 45Committee, 2018 IRS 990, "45Committe", 2018.
  9. 45Committee, 2017 IRS 990, "45Committe", 2017.
  10. 45Committee, 2016 IRS 990, "45Committee", 2016.
  11. 45Committee, 2015 IRS 990, "45Committee", February 16, 2017.