Conflict Of Interest? Was Tea Party Donor Money Used To Promote Case For Dan Backer, Esq.?

Conflict Of Interest? Was Tea Party Donor Money Used To Promote Case For Dan Backer, Esq.?

If Tea Party supporters follow the money they donated to Leadership Fund, will they agree it’s being used as they expected?

It appears  to me that an attorney named Dan Backer routed tens of thousands of dollars in donor money from a group that actively solicits money from Tea Party supporters into a fund that sent nearly $15,000 each to U.S. Senators in order to get their support on a court case that Backer himself is leading and using to built his own reputation and woo clients.

Don’t take my word on any of this. Click the links, follow along and make up your own mind.

Dan Backer is treasurer of Leadership Fund.  This controversial group has brought in $3,500,000 this election cycle.


That money came from primarily from grassroots  supporters who send money to support ‘the Tea Party movement.’


$40,000 from from The Leadership Fund  goes to a group called In Defense of Free Speech Jfc.


Here’s the FEC filing for In Defense of Free Speech Jfc.

The In Defense of Free Speech Jfc group was set up by Dan Backer.


Remember that Dan Backer is both the Treasurer of The Leadership Fund AND started the Joint Fundraising Committee that the TPLF gave the money to.

The money went to Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn. 


So $40,000 in donor money from a group Backer is treasurer of  and was sent to another a group he started and then on to McConnell, Cornyn, Cruz and Lee.

Why did this money go to them? 

It’s very clear that $40,000 in Tea Party donor money went to four Senators, including Cornyn and McConnell.

Why? Dan Backer isn’t answering those questions.

The In Defense of Free Speech Jfc appears to be connected to a court case Backer is leading called McCutcheon vs. FEC.



One of the other donors to the In Defense of Free Speech Jfc is plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon.


Backer promotes the McCutcheon case as a free speech issue and has been using the case to promote himself, as this recent article from USA Today shows:

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of policing speech,” Backer said during an interview at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference — an annual gathering that is part pep rally, trade show and media madhouse that attracts some of the Republican Party’s most ardent conservative activists.

It’s a place where Backer gets a lot of business done. It was at this conference three years ago that Backer met Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy Alabama electrical engineer who is the named plaintiff in the case. A few months after their initial meeting, Backer helped McCutcheon launch a super PAC, Conservative Action Fund.

About a year after their first meeting, Backer persuaded McCutcheon to confront the aggregate limits in court.

Is this a conflict of interest?

Is this the way Tea Party supporters want their money spent?

Please help spread the word.



  1. I don’t know about McConnell & Cornyn but Cruz & Lee certainly qualify as Tea Party

  2. I haven’t given to any of these Tea Party orgs, so I don’t have a dog in this fight. But if I did, I’m wondering why I would be seethingly angry about money going to the McCutcheon case when it is putatively about a fresh challenge to limits on campaign donations and new ways of shielding the identity of contributors. In light of Lois Lerner & Co.’s IRS efforts to stifle formation of new Tea Party organizations and the incident in which donors to traditional marriage boosters was leaked to the Human Rights Campaign, Backer’s strategy, as far-fetched as it appears now, seems almost visionary.

    You asked readers to look at the links to “make up your own mind.” From reading the USA Today piece, the writer doesn’t seem to share your conclusion that the McCutcheon case is only about Dan Backer “using the case to promote himself” in the beltway. If anything, the disturbing part is that Backer appears to believe that in order to get the Senators on board with helping to fight a free speech battle, he’s gotta throw a few thousand bucks their way to get their attention. Is Backer corruptly paying to play, is it his cynical assumption that this is the way things are done on the Hill, or is he biting the bullet and following well-defined protocol in the hopes that the greater good will be achieved?

    • I think the existence of the article itself shows he’s using the case to promote himself.

      The IRS scandal was partially about Backer, actually.

      • Lee, I’m waiting for some details that will make me agree that Dan Backer is a criminal of some sort, since that seems to be where you’re going. Instead, you’re telling me he’s a showboating D.C. attorney. Shocker! Is there a shortage of those? That was what was said about Larry Klayman and Floyd Brown, and they both went to the Supreme Court, challenged the political establishment, and changed the course of history.

        I’m not saying Backer is made of such stuff, because I have no idea what the likelihood is of his succeeding in McCutcheon, or if necessarily it would be a good thing if he did (anonymity of donors swings both ways). I’m saying that IMHO you have thus far failed to make the case that this is about money and glory for Backer and nothing more.


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