Republicans are furious at fellow conservative Ted Cruz, the freshman senator from Texas, who has spent the last several months pushing his party to defund health care reform or shut down the government trying -- a strategy both parties agree will end up hurting the GOP.
But what’s bad for the party isn’t necessarily bad for Cruz and the far-right of the conservative groups. Cruz's Obamacare issue helped the very folks that shelled out big sums to put him in office raise money this summer -- the same groups who will spend large sums to oust Republican incumbents in favor of more conservative primary challengers.
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a stop-gag spending bill, called a continuing resolution or CR, to fund the government after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 but exclude funding for the new health care law. The bill won’t pass the Democrat-controlled Senate intact, and President Obama would never sign it even if it did. If the government shuts down as a result of GOP intransigence, many Republican lawmakers are likely to suffer for it.
“Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fundraise off of attacks on fellow Republicans,” one furious Republican aide told the Huffington Post this week after Republican leadership decided to move forward with the Cruz’s Obamacare strategy.
So it’s only fitting that the Republicans in the House voted on the anti-Obamacare CR the same day that filings to the Federal Election Commission came due and the fundraising numbers proving the Republican aide right were released.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, a super PAC that spent August pushing a budget showdown over Obamacare, enjoyed its biggest fundraising haul of a non-election year last month. The group, which is affiliated with former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who now runs the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that has also pushed for an Obamacare showdown, brought in over $1.5 million in August. The group connected with GOP base voters in its Obamacare push, as evidenced by the $1.3 million it raised from small donations under $200 – the most the group has ever received from small donors. As the New York Times noted in an editorial this week, groups like Senate Conservatives Fund pushing to defund Obamacare have recently featured a big “donate” buttons on their website in conjunction with the effort.
Ultimately, this money will wind its way back to Cruz and the other far-right candidates that these groups prop up to challenge Republican incumbents. In the 2011-2012 election cycle, the Senate Conservatives Fund spent nearly $1 million to elect Cruz. The Club for Growth and its political arm, which have also pushed for and raised money from the defunding fight this summer, spent a combined nearly $1.3 million for Cruz.
“You see, money begets TV ads which begets even more money for these groups' personal coffers. Pointing fingers and attacking Republicans is apparently a very profitable fundraising business,” Brian Walsh, a Republican strategist, wrote in a US News op-ed this month, calling out the Senate Conservatives Fund and other similar groups for raising money by attacking fellow Republicans. “It's also a detriment to the future of the Republican Party and the critical effort to defend the House and win back the Senate in 2014.”