Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is turning his Senate Conservatives Fund from a leadership political action committee into an independent PAC, which makes it possible to form a super PAC and raise unlimited funds.
The move will help funnel money to Republican Senate candidates, but it could also cause some heartburn for the GOP. In a number of races, DeMint is backing primary candidates that the party would rather see lose.
Leadership PACs cannot operate as super PACs. Once the SCF is no longer formally connected to DeMint, the group will have that freedom.
“If we’re going to save this country, we have to elect more conservatives to the U.S. Senate,” DeMint said in a statement. “Making the Senate Conservatives Fund independent of me will allow it do even more to elect the kind of leaders we need to repeal Obamacare and balance the budget.”
The new group is called Senate Conservatives Action.
DeMint’s PAC raised more than $9 million in the 2010 cycle and has raised another $7.5 million since — far outpacing other Senate leadership PACs.
The group faced some criticism from fellow Republicans last time around for backing primary candidates that the party saw as weak contenders. (His most notable flop: Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell.)
This cycle, DeMint has endorsed some establishment-backed candidates — Rep. Jeff Flake in Arizona and state Treasurer Josh Mandel in Ohio — as well as some insurgents — Ted Cruz in Texas, Mark Neumann in Wisconsin and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. His candidate in the Nebraska Senate primary, state treasurer Don Stenberg, placed a distant third.
DeMint recently donated $500,000 to the Club for Growth, another group that backs only conservative candidates — another sign that the senator wants to be even more of a power player.