White Mountain PAC, a “pop-up” super PAC that poured $4.6 million into New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate GOP primary days before the election, has finally disclosed its donors.
Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), contributed $4.8 million on Aug. 31, according to the White Mountain PAC’s third-quarter report filed Oct. 15 – the first report the pop-up super PAC has been required to file since its statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Aug. 30.
GOP megadonor Timothy Mellon contributed $2 million to White Mountain PAC three days after the primary. White Mountain PAC then gave $2 million to Senate Leadership Fund on Sept. 19, less than a week after the New Hampshire primary.
Mellon did not return OpenSecrets’ request for comment.
By launching a pop-up super PAC right before an election, political actors can spend big and disclose the source of that money after the polls close. This is the first time New Hampshire voters who cast their ballots in the GOP primary on Sept. 13 can see who bankrolled the super PAC seeking to sway the election.
White Mountain PAC spent $4.6 million on Sept. 1 – the day New Hampshire pre-primary reports were due to the FEC – on media production and placement supporting state Senate President Chuck Morse. On Sept. 6, the super PAC launched an attack ad targeting retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc, who went on to narrowly win the GOP primary.
Bolduc faces incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in the general election on Nov. 8. New Hampshire leans Democratic, according to the Cook Political Report, and the U.S. Senate seat is one Republicans hope to flip in their quest to regain control of the chamber.
Democrats are slightly favored to keep control of the Senate, projects FiveThirtyEight, which also found Hassan has an almost 8-point lead over Bolduc. Hassan’s campaign also reported $4.8 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30, over six times Bolduc’s $768,000 war chest heading into October.
In a written statement to OpenSecrets, the Senate Leadership Fund pointed to its general election spending – the super PAC has poured nearly $10.2 million into New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate general election race boosting Bolduc and opposing Hassan despite bankrolling the super PAC that aimed to knock Bolduc out during the primary.
But some Republican groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled fall ad buys in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race as Hassan maintains a strong lead, POLITICO reported.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and some national Republicans sought to block Bolduc, a 2020 election denier some moderate members of the party perceived as too extreme to defeat Hassan in the general election, the New York Times reported shortly before the election.
The GOP nominee has called the popular Sununu a “Chinese Communist sympathizer,” highlighted in the ad launched by White Mountain PAC opposing the retired brigadier general. Sununu called Bolduc a “conspiracy theorist extremist” who will make it harder for Republicans to win the coveted U.S. Senate seat.
Bolduc backtracked on his claims that the 2020 election was stolen two days after he won the primary, telling Fox News, “I have come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this, the election was not stolen.”
But Bolduc flip-flopped in an interview with the QAnon-aligned podcast, The Mel K Show, saying, “We do have voter fraud and voter irregularities from the last election, from 2020. The narrative that the election was stolen does not fly up here in New Hampshire, for whatever reason. But what does fly is there was significant fraud and it needs to be fixed.”
He also told the New Yorker in an interview published on Oct. 14 that, if elected to the U.S. House, he would not hesitate to decertify the 2024 presidential election results if he suspected voter fraud.
The campaign of another election denier, Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, received $10,000 from GOP megadonor Mellon on Sept. 7, the day after White Mountain PAC launched the ad opposing Bolduc.
Mastriano has publicly denied the results of the 2020 election and is a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a group of election-denying candidates running to oversee state elections. In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state, and Mastriano was at the forefront of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, even using campaign funds to bus supporters to Washington, D.C. for the Jan. 6 rally-turned-insurrection.
Mellon has contributed at least $32.5 million to federal candidates and political committees so far this election cycle, most of that coming during the general election to super PACs spending in swing states. That’s more than three times the $10 million he contributed during the 2018 midterm election cycle and over half of the total $60 million Mellon gave during the 2020 election.
Super PACs boosting GOP nominees in battleground U.S. Senate races reported receiving millions from Mellon during the third quarter, OpenSecrets’ review of new FEC filings found. The Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC that has spent $300,000 opposing Hassan in New Hampshire and over $6.2 million attacking incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona’s Democratic-leaning U.S. Senate race, received $5 million from Mellon on Sept. 6.
The American Policy Fund, a super PAC supporting GOP candidate John O’Dea in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race also received $4 million from Mellon in September, according to its latest FEC report filed Oct. 15. The Colorado Sun also reported that Senate Leadership Fund contributed almost $1.3 million to the American Policy Fund in October.
White Mountain PAC is not the first pop-up super PAC Senate Leadership Fund has helped fund that spent big in key races. During the 2020 election, OpenSecrets reported that Senate Leadership Fund contributed almost $3 million to the Faith and Power PAC, a “pop-up” super PAC that spent that money supporting a progressive state Sen. Erica Smith in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary and opposing Cal Cunningham, Democrats’ preferred candidate who won the nomination but lost to incumbent Rep. Thom Tillis (R–N.C.) in the general.
Support Accountability Journalism
At OpenSecrets.org we offer in-depth, money-in-politics stories in the public interest. Whether you’re reading about 2020 presidential fundraising, conflicts of interest or “dark money” influence, we produce this content with a small, but dedicated team. Every donation we receive from users like you goes directly into promoting high-quality data analysis and investigative journalism that you can trust.
OpenSecrets is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your donation is tax-exempt.
Want first access to OpenSecrets’ investigations and data features? Learn about Article Alert.
Sign up for our newsletter to track money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.
A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization
1300 L St NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20005
Except for the Revolving Door section, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License by OpenSecrets.org. To request permission for commercial use, please contact us.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort