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Club for Growth gives $50K to Stadthagen PAC

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Best known for its activities in federal elections, including this year’s U.S. Senate contest in Alabama, right-aligned Club for Growth recently delved into state politics here with a large donation to the new House majority leader’s political action committee. 

The Club for Growth’s recent $50,000 contribution to new House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen’s STACKPAC has raised eyebrows in Montgomery political circles, mostly because of the D.C.-based group’s attacks on U.S. Sen.-elect Katie Britt and Congressman Jerry Carl, R-Mobile, in past elections.

Asked on Monday about the contribution, Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, said he was approached by Club for Growth. 

“This PAC is not and has never been about House leadership,” he said. “This PAC is about helping to elect Republicans and that is what (it has) helped to do, not only through contributions but also by encouraging straight ticket Republican voting. The purpose of the PAC is not just a mission statement on a Secretary of State form, it is the true purpose of the PAC as has been exhibited not only in contributions but in the media campaigns to encourage Republicans to get out and vote.”

In its bid to help elect Congressman Mo Brooks to the Senate, Club for Growth spent more than $6 million attacking now Sen.-elect Katie Britt over radio and television, according to Federal Communications Commission data. During Alabama’s 2020 primary elections, Club attacked Republican Bradley Byrne in the Senate race and Jerry Carl in the AL-1 House race. Byrne would fall short of making the runoff and Club eventually endorsed Tommy Tuberville in the primary runoff against Jeff Sessions.

Carl went on to be elected to Congress, despite about $2.1 million in attack ads from Club. The group also supported Barry Moore, who went on to be elected to Congress from Alabama’s 2nd District.

“I am fully supportive of Sen.-elect Britt and Congressman Carl,” Stadthagen said. “They both represent Alabama very well and they both do a fantastic job.”

The Club did not return a request for comment Monday about its interest in Alabama politics.

Sean Ross, Britt’s communications director, opted against reacting publicly.

“No comment,” Ross said in an email.

A spokesman for Carl also declined to comment about his boss’ reaction to recent contribution.

AUM political science professor David Hughes noted that some Republican politicians have shown more of a willingness to accept campaign contributions once thought of as taboo in GOP circles. He likened the situation to Roy Moore taking money from trial lawyers and many Republicans now accepting contributions from the Alabama Education Association.

“Stadhagen might have gleaned from his victory in the majority leader race that accepting money from a faction of the party opposed to at least one of the Big Mules’ candidates was worth the risk, thereby doubling down on the Club for Growth Money,” Hughes told Alabama Daily News.

Stadthagen established STACKPAC in June in preparation to run for Majority Leader among his House Republican colleagues. He defeated Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn, for the spot, thanks in part to STACK PAC spending about $124,000 in October and November in campaign contributions and a get-out-the-vote media campaign. STACK PAC gave $500 or $1,000 to many House GOP candidates and incumbents and $5,000 to a few candidates in particularly tight contests.

The Club for Growth donation wasn’t the only one to get Stadthagen’s PAC noticed recently. ADN previously reported in Inside Alabama Politics major contributions from John Blanchard, the ex-husband of Lindy Blanchard, who ran against Gov. Kay Ivey in the GOP primary. John Blanchard contributed a total of $90,000 to STACK PAC, according to campaign finance reports. Stadthagen noted that Blanchard also donated to Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter’s House Majority PAC in 2021, the state executive GOP committee and the Montgomery County GOP party.

“These are all efforts to support and elect Republican candidates in our state,” Stadthagen said.

Candidates who were on the November ballot have until March 8, 2023 to accept PAC or other donations to clear any campaign debts they have.

“I believe that, as Republicans, we should do everything we can to support other Republicans in our state every time we get the opportunity, regardless of if that means going door to door for a local county commission or school board race or helping to encourage Republicans to go vote in a General Election for the Republican nominee for the State Legislature or Governor,” Stadthagen said.

“We are a team and we have to work together to elect Republicans and to pass Republican bills in the legislature. That is what Alabama voters expect of us and that is what we should do. There is no reason to feed into a narrative which tries to divide our party based on differences in a primary season. That serves no useful or fruitful purpose.”

Alabama Daily News Publisher Todd Stacy contributed to this report.

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