Following the Mystery Money Behind a Super-PAC’s Attacks on Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth, left, and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).Sharkpixs/Brendan Hoffman/Chicago Tribune/ZUMAPress

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Earlier this month, Mother Jones reported on a curious turn of events in a congressional race in northern Illinois. A super-PAC called Now or Never had poured $1.7 million into ads bolstering the campaign of Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), a gaffe-prone tea party favorite, and attacking Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth. One pundit called Now or Never’s pro-Walsh spending “delusional.” For months Duckworth has enjoyed a wide lead in the race, which happens to be in a Democratic-leaning district.

Now or Never is somewhat of a mystery itself. The strategists running the super-PAC refuse to identify themselves—spokesman Tyler Harber described them only as “a group of business owners and political operatives who have worked in Washington, DC, and across the Midwest.” And at the time of their pro-Walsh spending, Now or Never had yet to disclose who was funding its attacks on Duckworth, an Army reservist and progressive favorite.

On Monday, Now or Never’s latest campaign filings came out. The plot thickens.

Every penny received by Now or Never in September, when it launched its Illinois ad blitz, came from a Virginia-based nonprofit called Americans for Limited Government. ALG forked over, in two payments, a whopping $1.95 million. As a nonprofit, ALG doesn’t disclose its donors.

Americans for Limited Government was co-founded in 1996 by real estate investor Howard Rich, who also serves on the boards of the Cato Institute and the Club for Growth. According to Politico, ALG has been among the recipients of funding from the extensive donor network established by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. ALG has also employed Sean Noble, according to Politico, who helped to oversee how the Koch donor network’s contributions were spent.  

Ray Wotring, a spokesman for ALG, refused to say who funds his organization. “We as a practice don’t reveal our donors,” he says. Wotring also declined to say why ALG contributed to Now or Never. Harber, a spokesman for Now or Never, says in an email that the super-PAC discloses all of its donors. “ALG isn’t our first, last, or only donor,” Harber notes. “We can’t compel them to disclose their donors, but we have done everything we can to be as transparent and accessible as possible.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate