The gun control advocacy group founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords spends more of its money on fundraising and operating expenses than campaign activity, Federal Election Commission documents show.
The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC has raised just over $11 million in the 2016 campaign cycle, according to FEC filings. The group has spent just over $9 million of that money thus far. Fifty-three percent of that spending went towards things other than campaign activity.
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The PAC has spent $4,826,326 on a combination of fundraising, salaries, and other operating costs, according to numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. More than $3.1 million went to fundraising alone. Another $833,509 went toward salaries, with two top recipients bringing in six figures. The final nearly $900,000 went to administrative costs and unspecified spending.
These figures do not include media expenditures, totaling $276,902, and money spent on strategy and research, totaling $233,952.
Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC spent a total of $2,818,934.17 in federal elections. All of that money was spent on ads in opposition to Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. The group gave another $15,000 to committees and state and local candidates.
Giffords’ group has become one of the biggest players in gun control politics over the last few years. The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC is larger and more active than the political action committees associated with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Mark Prentice, communications director for Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, defended the group’s fundraising practices.
"We fund much of our PAC from small contributions received online, through direct mail, and over the telephone," he said. "Unlike the Washington gun lobby, we don’t have an industry with a financial interest in our agenda, so fundraising involves more than a phone call to the C-Suite of a gun manufacturer."
Prentice said the group has spent money in a number of different ways to bolster the gun control movement.
"The cutting-edge message research we invested in has provided the foundation, not only for our work, but for the unprecedented pro-gun safety communications you’ve heard from candidates and committees," he said. "We’ve also invested significantly in engaging with voters, driving coverage of gun violence, and lifting up gun safety as a voting issue for millions of Americans. A good example of this is our 42-day, 14-state Vocal Majority bus tour that’s on the road now. We’re also supporting gun safety ballot initiatives across the country."
Prentice said the group, which still has more than $3.8 million on hand, plans to up its ad spending before the end of the election.
"Those are ongoing and will continue until Election Day," he said.