Political Party/527

Giffords PAC (Americans for Responsible Solutions)

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

46-5592432

Tax-Exempt Status:

527

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $4,589,686
Expenses: $4,474,132
Assets: $1,318,247

Formerly:

Americans for Responsible Solutions

Type:

Carey Committee (hybrid PAC)

Formation:

2014 in Washington, D.C.

Founders:

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)

Mark Kelly

Executive Director:

Peter Ambler[36]

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords (D-Arizona) and her husband Mark Kelly founded Giffords PAC (originally Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC) to elect supporters of gun control to public office. It supports candidates through endorsements, campaign donations, and independent expenditures, usually through radio, television, and digital advertising.

Giffords PAC has given a large majority of its endorsements and financial support to Democrats, becoming a “ruthless attack dog.”[1] A Giffords PAC advertisement implying Republican candidate Martha McSally was culpable in a murder in 2014 was condemned by the centrist Arizona Republic as “base and vile.”[2] The left-leaning Politifact criticized a Giffords PAC ad targeting then-U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) for taking facts about Ayotte’s voting record on gun policy out of context.[3]

History

In 2013, former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who had been shot and seriously wounded in 2011, and her husband Mark Kelly started Americans for Responsible Solutions to promote more aggressive gun-control laws.[4] Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC served as the openly political affiliate of Americans for Responsible Solutions with Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation serving as a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) entity for non-electoral advocacy.

In 2017, the Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation was renamed Giffords, and the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC became Giffords PAC.[5] Giffords PAC is classified as a “Carey Committee,” a hybrid of a traditional PAC and a Super PAC which is allowed both to make Federal Election Campaign Act-limited contributions to candidates and Citizens United-authorized unlimited independent expenditures on advocacy on behalf of candidates.[6]

Democratic Party Alignment

Endorsements

Giffords PAC claims to be bipartisan; however, Giffords PAC has overwhelmingly supported Democrats and opposed Republicans in both endorsements and financial support.[7]

Giffords PAC endorsed a few Republican candidates on the federal level in 2014 (Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania)[8]) and 2016 (Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania)[9]). In 2016, it endorsed Democratic candidate Ted Strickland for U.S. Senate from Ohio[10] and 18 other Democrats for the House of Representatives.[11] It endorsed 27 Democratic candidates running for state office in 2016.[12]

In 2017, Giffords PAC endorsed Democrats Ralph Northam for governor,[13] Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring for attorney general in Virginia,[14] along with 12 Democrats for the Virginia House of Delegates.[15] It endorsed Democrat Phil Murphy for governor of New Jersey.[16] It also endorsed Democratic candidates for mayor in Albuquerque and Boston.[17]

Independent Expenditures

In 2014, Giffords PAC spent $6,251,336 on independent expenditures supporting Democrats and opposing Republicans but spent only $633,439 supporting Republicans.[18]

In 2016, it gave $74,805 in campaign contributions to Democratic candidates and spent $2,759,842 on independent expenditures for Democrats or against Republicans. It contributed no financial support to Republicans that year.[19]

Republicans only received six percent (four) of Giffords PAC’s endorsements, while Democrats received 94 percent. Of the $10,177,922 Giffords PAC made in campaign contributions and independent endorsements, only about six percent went to support Republicans; the other 94 percent supported Democrats or opposed Republicans. This is lopsidedly partisan for an organization which claims to be bipartisan.

Additionally, in 2014, House Majority PAC, a Democratic Party leadership-aligned Super PAC which exists to elect and re-elect Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives,[20] made a large donation to Giffords PAC, and Giffords PAC made a large donation to the House Majority PAC.[21]

Controversial Ads

A 2014 advertisement opposing Republican candidate Martha McSally (R-Arizona) claimed that McSally opposed laws that made it difficult for stalkers to obtain guns.[22] McSally had herself been a victim of stalking and supported all current laws against stalkers having access to firearms.[23] The Arizona Republic, which had endorsed Giffords in prior election campaigns for Congress, characterized the advertisement as “base and vile,” “a nasty piece of work,” and “[d]emagoguery in heart-rending tones.”[24]

Giffords PAC ran a 2016 ad opposing Kelly Ayotte’s re-election to the U.S. Senate. It claimed that the gun lobby funded her campaigns and controlled her votes on gun-related legislation. The left-leaning fact checking service Politifact New Hampshire found that gun rights groups’ donations to and independent expenditures on behalf of Ayotte’s campaigns over her political career to that point totaled about $80,000. This was less than one percent of the money she had raised over her political career. The group rated Giffords PAC’s claims as “half-true.”[25]

Leadership

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords is a co-founder of Giffords. She came to national prominence after she survived being shot during an attempted assassination. She would later resign from Congress to concentrate on her rehabilitation. She started the Americans for Responsible Solutions network of gun control organizations (later renamed after her) in 2013.[26]

Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords husband, co-founded Giffords and frequently speaks on behalf of the organization. He is a former U.S. Navy pilot and astronaut.[27]

Peter Ambler is the Executive Director of Giffords. He was previously a congressional staffer working for Rep. Giffords. He also served as an advisor to Obama administration Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in 2012. He has worked with the Americans for Responsible Solutions/Giffords network since its founding in 2013.[28]

Funding

Funders

When Giffords PAC first started as Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC in 2013, it received several large donations in the hundreds of thousands from major left-of-center donors including former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg (I) and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.[29] It received a total of $21,343,357 for the 2014 election cycle.[30] It has received fewer large donations in the 2016 cycle.[31]

Grant Recipients

As the larger donations and overall amount of giving have decreased, Giffords PAC has spent a larger proportion of its funding on fundraising. In the 2014 election cycle, fundraising took 26 percent of its funding[32]; in the 2016 election cycle, fundraising costs increased to 34 percent.[33] Including salaries and administrative expenses, overhead costs totaled 36 percent for the 2014 election cycle, [34] and 53 percent for the 2016 cycle. [35]

Giffords PAC receives a significant proportion of its funding through liberal political fundraising platform ActBlue.

References

  1. uoted in Cooke, Charles C. W. “Gabby Giffords Gets Meaningless.” National Review   . September 25, 2014. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.nationalreview.com/2014/09/gabby-giffords-gets-meaningless-charles-c-w-cooke/.
  2. Editorial Board. “Vile Ad Bounces off McSally, Sticks to Gabby Giffords.” Arizona Republic. September 20, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2018. https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2014/09/19/giffords-mcsally-ad/15886733/.
  3. eid, Nick. “How Much Influence Does Gun Lobby Have over Kelly Ayotte?” Politifact New Hampshire. June 30, 2016. Accessed May 31, 2018. http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2016/jun/30/americans-responsible-solutions/how-much-do-gun-lobbyists-fund-kelly-ayottes-campa/.
  4. chouten, Fredreka. “Giffords’ Super PAC Raises $6.5 Million.” USA Today. July 26, 2013. Accessed June 02, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/07/25/gabby-giffords-americans-for-responsible-solutions-fundraising-gun-control/2586975/.
  5. RELEASE: Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Announce Next Chapter in Movement to Save Lives: “Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence”.” Giffords. October 17, 2017. Accessed June 02, 2018. https://giffords.org/2017/10/launch/.
  6. Giffords PAC Summary.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2018&strID=C00540443.
  7. owman, Bridget. “Gun Control Movement Turns to Campaigns.” Roll Call. October 04, 2017. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/gun-control-movement-campaigns.
  8. Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.” Ballotpedia. Accessed June 06, 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/Americans_for_Responsible_Solutions_PAC.
  9. orman, Michele. “In Rare Move, Gabby Giffords’s Gun Safety Group Endorses Two Republicans.” Newsweek. August 30, 2016. Accessed June 06, 2018. http://www.newsweek.com/why-gabby-giffordss-gun-safety-group-backing-two-republicans-493590.
  10. ARS Endorses Ted Strickland for U.S. Senate.” Giffords. March 8, 2016. Accessed June 08, 2018. https://giffords.org/2016/03/stricklandendorsement/.
  11. Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, Americans For Responsible Solutions PAC Announce Endorsements of U.S. House Candidates.” Giffords. September 22, 2016. Accessed June 08, 2018. https://giffords.org/2016/09/ars-pac-endorse-candidates-us-house-representatives/.
  12. ARS PAC Endorses Candidates for State Legislatures.” Giffords. October 01, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://giffords.org/2016/10/stateendorsements/.
  13. ARS PAC Endorses Ralph Northam For Virginia Governor.” Giffords. October 01, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://giffords.org/2017/08/northam-2/.
  14. Americans For Responsible Solutions PAC Endorses Fairfax, Herring.” Augusta Free Press. August 21, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. http://augustafreepress.com/americans-responsible-solutions-pac-endorses-fairfax-herring/.
  15. STATEMENT: ARS PAC Endorses Candidates for The Virginia House of Delegates.” Giffords. October 01, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://giffords.org/2017/08/vahouse/.
  16. STATEMENT: ARS PAC Endorses Phil Murphy For Governor.” Giffords. October 01, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://giffords.org/2017/08/philmurphyendorsement/.
  17. Giffords Endorses 2017 Mayoral Candidates.” Giffords. October 31, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://giffords.org/2017/10/mayoral-endorsements/.
  18. Americans for Responsible Solutions Independent Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/indexpend.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2014&txt=.
  19. Americans for Responsible Solutions Independent Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/indexpend.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2016&txt=.
  20. Our Story.” House Majority PAC. Accessed June 04, 2018. http://www.thehousemajoritypac.com/about-us/our-story.
  21. Americans for Responsible Solutions to PACs/Parties.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pac2pac.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2014.
  22. erguson, Joe. “Ad Watch: ARS Releases New Ad, “Stalker Gap”.” Arizona Daily Star. September 17, 2014. Accessed June 08, 2018. https://tucson.com/news/blogs/pueblo-politics/ad-watch-ars-releases-new-ad-stalker-gap/article_1f3fa176-040e-5db6-b832-169e8fec04ed.html.
  23. ooke, Charles C. W. “Gabby Giffords Gets Meaningless.” National Review. September 25, 2014. Accessed May 31, 2018. https://www.nationalreview.com/2014/09/gabby-giffords-gets-meaningless-charles-c-w-cooke/.
  24. rizona Republic Editorial Board. “Vile Ad Bounces off McSally, Sticks to Gabby Giffords.” Azcentral. September 20, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2014/09/19/giffords-mcsally-ad/15886733/.
  25. eid, Nick. “How Much Influence Does Gun Lobby Have over Kelly Ayotte?” Politifact New Hampshire. June 30, 2016. Accessed May 31, 2018. http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2016/jun/30/americans-responsible-solutions/how-much-do-gun-lobbyists-fund-kelly-ayottes-campa/.
  26. Gabrielle Giffords.” Giffords. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://giffords.org/people/gabrielle-giffords/.
  27. Mark Kelly.” Giffords. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://giffords.org/people/mark-kelly/.
  28. Peter Ambler.” Giffords. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://giffords.org/people/peter-ambler/.
  29. iffords PAC Contributors, 2018 Cycle.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 03, 2014. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2014.
  30. Americans for Responsible Solutions Summary.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2014&strID=C00540443.
  31. Giffords PAC Contributors, 2016 Cycle.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 03, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2016.
  32. Americans for Responsible Solutions Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/expenditures.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2014.
  33. Americans for Responsible Solutions Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/expenditures.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2016.
  34. Americans for Responsible Solutions Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/expenditures.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2014.
  35. Americans for Responsible Solutions Expenditures.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 04, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/expenditures.php?cmte=C00540443&cycle=2016.
  36. “Peter Ambler.” Giffords. Accessed June 11, 2018. https://giffords.org/people/peter-ambler/.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Hayley Zachary
    Former Strategic Director
  2. Peter Ambler
    Strategic Director (Americans for Responsible Solutions)
  3. Mark Kelly
    Co-Founder
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2015

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Jun Form 990 $4,589,686 $4,474,132 $1,318,247 $482,563 N $4,589,686 $0 $0 $248,464 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Giffords PAC (Americans for Responsible Solutions)

    100
    WASHINGTON, DC 20001-0000