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In previous installments of our special report on the status of the Tea Party, we’ve examined the year that was for the movement and the membership size and locations of the various national factions. In this section, we examine the financial status of the national Tea Party factions and their affiliated political action committees.

Following the Money – Financial Support for the National Tea Party Factions

An investigation by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights finds that at the same time movement sympathy leveled off and membership growth slowed, financial support for the national Tea Party factions (and their affiliated political action committees) remained strong.

Since a majority of the national Tea Party factions do not disclose their financial data, it’s not possible to get a complete financial picture of the movement.[1] However, the most recent available financial data at the time of this report for two of the factions suggests that the movement continues to get sizable financial support.

Combined, the Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks brought in a sizable $42,946,974.

National Tea Party Faction Financial Data

Tea Party Faction



Fiscal Year Ending

Tea Party Patriots, Inc.




Tea Party Patriots Foundation




FreedomWorks, Inc.




FreedomWorks Foundation, Inc.




1776 Tea Party




Patriot Action Network




Tea Party Nation

N/A (Stop the Insanity, Inc.)




Tea Party Express




Though 2013 financial documents from the factions are not yet available, anecdotal evidence suggests that 2013 may have not been as financially rewarding as 2012. Part of this may be related to non-election year fundraising challenges for groups so closely tied to politics. Additionally, internal squabbles may be impacting the bottom line. As will be discussed in more detail in the fourth installment of the Status of the Tea Party report, after a leadership struggle that ousted founder Dick Armey from FreedomWorks (for the tidy sum of $8 million), the organization has reportedly had financial challenges in 2013.

Tea Party PACs

Equally important, however, is that amidst the protestations about the IRS handling of Tea Party non-profit applications, the flow of money started to tilt away from 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 non-profit organizations towards Tea Party political action committees (PACs) and Super PACs in 2013.

The biggest change to the landscape came with the formation of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. The Super PAC was created at the beginning of 2013 to replace the old Tea Party Patriots Inc. PAC. With a Seattle address and local TPP activist, Sally Oljar, at the helm, the old PAC never got off the ground. Not a single dollar has been raised by the TPP PAC since it was formed in January 2010. On the other hand, the TPP Citizens Fund brought in more than $2 million in its first six months.

In total, there were six faction-affiliated Tea Party PACs active in 2013—two connected to FreedomWorks, two tied to Tea Party Patriots, a Super PAC tied to the Patriot Action Network, and the original Tea Party PAC, Our Country Deserves Better – PAC.

In an off-year for national politics, during the first six months of 2013 (the most recent data available), total receipts to faction-affiliated Tea Party PACs climbed to $4,350,765.

Heading into the 2014 electoral cycle, the five PACs have a combined $2,045,906 on hand.

Tea Party PAC Money 2013 [2]

Tea Party PAC


Itemized Individual Contributions

Unitemized Individual Contributions

Individual Itemized Contributors

Total Itemized contributions

FreedomWorks for America Super PAC*






FreedomWorks PAC






Patriot Super PAC*






Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund *






Tea Party Patriots Inc. PAC






Tea Party Express






By comparison, during the 2009-2010 cycle, national Tea Party PACs brought in $8,373,285, and in the 2011-2012 period they had receipts of $34,553,844.

National Tea Party PAC Money 2010-2013

One quarter of the way into the 2013-2014 cycle, and national Tea Party PACs raised nearly half of what they brought in during the last off year election cycle. In other words, national Tea Party PACs are well on their way to matching the amount raised during the last non-presidential election cycle.

2013 Tea Party PAC Contributions

Contribution data from the Federal Elections Commission further undercuts the Tea Party “Astroturf” argument. Of the five different Tea Party political action committees, 82% of contributions ($3,577,259 in total) were from an unidentified number of individual, un-itemized contributions. Un-itemized PAC contributions are supposed to be under $200. Even assuming a donations at the maximum un-itemized level of $200, that’s nearly 18,000 donors.

The remaining 18% of Tea Party PAC contributions were made by 1559 individuals from every state and the District of Columbia. California narrowly beat out Texas for the largest number of donors, with 223 different donors in California and 222 in Texas. Florida was third with 102.

The South had the highest regional concentration of donors. Top cities include: Houston, Texas (31); Dallas, Texas (17); San Antonio, Texas (11); New York, New York (11); Las Vegas, Nevada (10); Midland, Texas (8); Naples, Florida (8); and San Diego, California (8).

Tea Party Contributor Occupations

Setting aside the 803 donor records that do not list an occupation, the leading occupation among donors to the national faction-affiliated Tea Party PACs is “retired”—with 54% of those listing an occupation (409 of 756). [3] The next largest occupation group was “homemaker” at 2% (17 total), followed by “engineer” and “farmer” at just under 2% (14 and 13 total).

Tea Party Super PACs

There has been considerable discussion about the role of Super PACs and their impact on American democracy. A study by Demos and the U.S. Public Interest Group found that in 2011, 93% of the itemized contributions raised by all super PACs came in contributions of $10,000 or more, with more than half of this money coming from just 37 people who each gave $500,000 or more.[4]

While one Tea Party Super PAC was the recipient of largess from mega-donors during the 2012 electoral cycle, the available 2013 contribution data for Tea Party Super PACs does not find the same mega-donor patterns at work. Contrary to public perception, there were no Koch brother contributions or big corporate money bankrolling the Tea Party Super PACs in 2013.

In 2012, the FreedomWorks for America Super PAC raised $23,453,198. While a significant percentage came from small, unitemized donors, 14 donors gave at least $50,000 – including $350,000 in donations from Wisconsin packaging supply magnate Richard Uihlein, a $750,000 donation from retired Florida resident Mary Stiefel, and $2,232,862 in donations from FreedomWorks (cloaking the actual source of the funds).

By contrast, in 2013 Tea Party Super PACs have not been showered with huge gifts from a few large donors. Instead, the average itemized contribution to the Tea Party Super PACs was just $435. [5] In fact, 97% of the itemized donations to Tea Party Super PACs were under $1,000.

Only one donor, Warren Galkin from Warwick, Rhode Island, contributed more than $5,000 (he made 2 contributions of $5,000 to the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund). Just one donation was over $10,000, an in-kind donation of $59,063 from FreedomWorks to the FreedomWorks for America Super PAC. One business is listed as a contributor, Friend Auto Sales, Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, which gave $5,000 to the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.

Heading into 2014, far from being dead, despite a bumpy year, national Tea Party groups appear to have sizable financial reserves and have also managed to replentish their political action committee war chests for future battles. 

In the next section, we will describe what has happened in each of the national factions, one at a time.


[1]. Two of the factions, Patriot Action Network and Tea Party Nation, are for-profit entities that do not disclose financial details. The 1776 Tea Party (aka is listed as a non-profit corporation in Texas, but not listed with the IRS. They have not disclosed and financial information. Tea Party Express is a political action committee officially known as Our Country Deserves Better PAC – PAC money is discussed more fully later in this article. is a project of Stop The Insanity Inc., which started as a political action committee, but then morphed into a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. It was granted non-profit status in 2013, and as such no financial information is yet available.

[2]. Federal Elections Commission campaign data downloaded from Last accessed December 30, 2013.

[3]. The no-listings include those records with the occupation labels “Best Efforts” “N/A” “none” and “Info Requested” listings in FEC records.

[4]. Blair Bowie and Adam Lioz, Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of Super PACs and the 2012 Election, Demos Website, February 8, 2012,

[5]. The total number of itemized contributions to the three Tea Party Super PACS—FreedomWorks for America, Patriot Super PAC, and Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund—was 1,008. Those 1,008 donations from 861 donors combined for a total of $438,099 to the Tea Party Super PACs.
Devin Burghart

Author Devin Burghart

is vice president of IREHR. He coordinates our Seattle office, directs our research efforts, and manages our online communications. He has researched, written, and organized on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism since 1992, and is internationally recognized for this effort. Devin is frequently quoted as an expert by print, broadcast, and online media outlets. In 2007, he was awarded a Petra Foundation fellowship. more...

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