Schumer-linked PACs spend millions to meddle in GOP primaries

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Groups aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have meddled in several Republican primaries this election cycle, a tactic that has been underway a number of years.

The Senate Majority PAC (SMP), which works to elect and keep Democrats in Congress’ upper chamber, has targeted Republican primaries in at least two states for the 2024 elections.

SMP tends to maneuver using other groups to conceal its involvement until after the primaries. It mainly targets swing states by boosting candidates supported by former President Trump, who they likely view as more prone to lose to their Democrat Senate candidate in the general election.

SMP most recently used the tactic in Ohio’s Republican primary, backing businessman Bernie Moreno, whom Trump endorsed, using a group called the Duty and Country PAC.


Groups affiliated with Sen. Chuck Schumer have meddled in several GOP primaries. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Duty and Country PAC injected $2.5 million into a last-minute effort to propel Moreno by labeling him “too conservative” in a presumed attempt to solidify his standing among some Republican voters, Politico reported.

“Bernie Moreno is too conservative for Ohio,” a Duty and Honor ad that began running right before the primary election said. “In Washington, Moreno would do Donald Trump’s bidding. That’s why Trump endorsed Moreno, calling him ‘exactly the type of MAGA fighter that we need in the United States Senate.’”


What’s more, the ad continued, Moreno would “lead the charge” for Trump’s agenda to “repeal Obamacare” and “institute a national abortion ban.”

Federal Election Commission records show the Duty and Country PAC received nearly $900,000 last year from Majority Forward, a dark money nonprofit that shares staffers with SMP. Majority Forward has also funneled millions in donations directly to SMP.

While Duty and Country is not required to file another report until mid-year showing its financing for the first half of 2024, it likely continued to be exclusively bankrolled by anonymous contributions channeled from Majority Forward.

closeup of Chuck Schumer with glasses on

The Senate Majority PAC and Majority Forward have injected themselves into Republican primaries in Ohio and Montana this election cycle. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“Ohio voters deserved to know the truth about Bernie Moreno, and the truth is that Moreno is a MAGA extremist who embraced Donald Trump just like he embraced his policies to ban abortion nationwide and repeal the ACA,” SMP spokesperson Hannah Menchhoff told Fox News Digital.

Moreno defeated Republican State Sen. Matt Dolan in Tuesday’s Ohio Senate primary and will face Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.


SMP also recently used identical tactics in Montana. A mysterious entity called the Last Best Place PAC jumped into the Senate race earlier this year and began spending millions targeting former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy ahead of the state’s Republican primary.

The Last Best Place PAC is also solely supported by Majority Forward. Federal records filed in late January show the nonprofit donated $2.14 million to the PAC and was its only contributor.

However, the PAC’s efforts led to a complaint from the watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT) over its failure to file a single independent expenditure report showing its activity in Montana as required by Federal Election Commission rules.

Sen. Chuck Schumer at press gaggle, shrugging

Schumer-affiliated groups previously threw themselves into Republican primaries in states like New Hampshire and Arizona.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Last Best Place PAC is masquerading as a local Montana operation while quietly laundering millions of dollars from D.C. liberals,” APT Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland previously told Fox News Digital. 

“Spending massive sums of money to impact this election without filing the legally required reports flies in the face of the letter and spirit of our election laws. This behavior warrants an immediate investigation by the FEC in order to uphold the basic standards of transparency and public trust.”

Additionally, SMP has intervened in other Republican primaries, including in Colorado.

During the Republican Colorado Senate primary in 2022, an obscure group called Democratic Colorado spent millions reinforcing the more conservative state Rep. Ron Hanks, who faced off against businessman Joe O’Dea. 

Democratic Colorado’s donors were unknown as they poured millions into the primary. However, following the release of the group’s first campaign finance report, The Colorado Sun discovered the Senate Majority PAC was the sole source of the group’s $4 million in funding. 

The tactic backfired. O’Dea won the primary by nearly ten points and faced Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet that November, where he lost.

SMP also used this tactic in states like New Hampshire and Arizona in previous election cycles.

Sen. Chuck Schumer in Capitol holding news conference

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The controversial approach, which Democrats have also utilized in House races, has drawn scorn from Republicans.

“When you involve yourself in another party’s primaries, it sharpens the divide,” veteran Republican strategist Keith Naughton told The Hill in November 2022.


“It makes it harder to compromise,” he said. “It makes it harder to make a deal because there’s a lot less trust. So, there’s an immediate advantage, but you’ve got a long-term disadvantage.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have defended the tactic.

“I like winning, and this was a strategy that brought us multiple victories. And everybody said there was going to be a red wave,” Democrat strategist Jonathan Kott told the publication at the time.

“So, if Republicans want to keep putting up extreme candidates, I think it’s the Democrats’ job to show exactly who those people are.”

SMP did not comment on the general tactic of meddling in Republican primaries.

Fox News Digital’s Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.


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