Political Party/527

Iron PAC

Location:

Washington, DC

Founder:

Randy Bryce

Type:

Political Action Committee

Iron PAC is a left-of-center political action committee that supports pro-labor union Democratic congressional candidates. The PAC’s stated purpose is to support working-class labor union connected candidates. It was founded by Randy Bryce, a labor organizer and Ironworkers union member who gained national attention during his losing 2018 congressional campaign in Wisconsin’s first congressional district, held at the time by outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). [1]

The PAC was formed during the 2020 election cycle, during which it contributed only a small portion of funds it raised to Democratic candidates and paid large sums to consultants as well as to Bryce himself. [2] Center for Responsive Politics data showed the PAC only contributed $15,500 to candidates and paid Bryce $71,000 in consulting fees out of the $168,000 it spent during the 2020 cycle. [3]

Background

Iron PAC was founded in 2019 by Randy Bryce, a labor union activist whose losing campaign in Wisconsin’s first congressional district sparked national attention because of a series of viral ads highlighting Bryce’s working-class union background. Bryce started the PAC following his 2018 loss, supposedly to fund more working-class union-backed Democratic candidates to challenge Republican House incumbents. The PAC’s launch was managed by Strategy and Hustle, a Democratic consulting firm led by Alex Lawson, the executive director of left-leaning nonprofit Social Security Works. Bryce stated that the PAC would not endorse primary challengers to sitting Democrats and instead would focus on notable Republican House members such as former Rep. Steve King (R-IA). [4]

Randy Bryce

Iron PAC was created and is led by Randy Bryce. Bryce’s 2018 congressional campaign in Wisconsin’s first congressional district gained national attention, as he was challenging incumbent House Speaker Paul Ryan, who ultimately retired as speaker and did not seek reelection. Bryce is a member of the Ironworkers Union and was political coordinator of Ironworkers Local 8 for nine years, and served on the Milwaukee Area Labor Council’s board of directors. Bryce had preciously lost campaigns for the Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin State Senate, and local school board. [5]

Bryce’s 2018 campaign became involved in controversy about his personal finances and unpaid child support. Bryce paid off several personal debts as well as a child support lien. Democratic party officials helped arrange for Bryce to pay off a 2002 personal debt. [6] Democratic operatives as well as the spokesperson for the Working Families Party, a close ally of Bryce’s campaign, downplayed the issue. [7]

Following his 2018 loss, the Working Families Party announced that Bryce had been hired as a consultant for the labor union-aligned advocacy group, a role he left after creating Iron PAC in 2019. [8]

Activity

Upon the launch of Iron PAC in 2019, the organization faced criticism for spending most of the money it raised on paying Bryce as a consultant and covering his travel costs. Between the PAC’s founding in March 2019 and August of that year, the PAC did not contribute to any candidates while paying Bryce $9,000 in consulting fees as well as paying his 2018 campaign to rent fundraising lists. [9]

All told, during the 2020 election cycle Iron PAC raised $186,000 and spent $168,000 while only giving $15,500 to candidates, or less than 10 percent of its overall spending. [10] Meanwhile, Center for Responsive Politics data showed that the PAC paid Randy Bryce over $71,000 in consulting fees, or 42% of the PAC’s total spending. The PAC also paid $39,000 in consulting fees to Democratic consulting firm Strategy and Hustle. [11]

References

  1. “Home.” Iron PAC. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://ironpac.org/ ^
  2. “PAC formed to help working-class candidates pays thousands to Bryce, consultants.” WisPolitics.com. August 20, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/pac-formed-to-help-working-class-candidates-pays-thousands-to-bryce-consultants/ ^
  3. “Iron PAC: Expenditures.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/iron-pac/C00696666/expenditures/2020 ^
  4. Marans, Daniel. “PAC formed to help working-class candidates pays thousands to Bryce, consultants.” HuffPost. March 9, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/randy-bryce-iron-stache-wisconsin-democratic-iron-pac_n_5c82a6ade4b0d9361627c2fd ^
  5. Mettler, Katie. “This union ironworker wants Paul Ryan’s job. He’s got a great ad but a losing record.” Washington Post. June 21, 2017. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/06/21/this-union-ironworker-wants-paul-ryans-job-hes-got-a-great-ad-but-a-losing-record/ ^
  6. Bice, Daniel. “Bice: Paul Ryan challenger Randy Bryce finally pays off debt – 15 years late.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 28, 2017. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/investigations/daniel-bice/2017/11/28/bice-paul-ryan-challenger-randy-bryce-finally-pays-off-debt-15-years-late/897786001/ ^
  7. Bice, Daniel. “Bice: Candidate Randy Bryce paid off delinquent child support after entering race against Paul Ryan.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 7, 2017. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/investigations/daniel-bice/2017/11/07/bice-candidate-randy-bryce-paid-off-delinquent-child-support-after-entering-race-against-paul-ryan/839358001/ ^
  8. “PAC formed to help working-class candidates pays thousands to Bryce, consultants.” WisPolitics.com. August 20, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/pac-formed-to-help-working-class-candidates-pays-thousands-to-bryce-consultants/ ^
  9. “PAC formed to help working-class candidates pays thousands to Bryce, consultants.” WisPolitics.com. August 20, 2019. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/pac-formed-to-help-working-class-candidates-pays-thousands-to-bryce-consultants/ ^
  10. “Iron PAC: Summary.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/iron-pac/C00696666/summary/2020 ^
  11. “Iron PAC: Expenditures.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/iron-pac/C00696666/expenditures/2020 ^
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Iron PAC


Washington, DC