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FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party group led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), is starting a super PAC.
The new political action committee will likely be called FreedomWorks Action, though the official name is still being hashed out, Matt Kibbe, the group’s president, said during a conversation with reporters in Roll Call’s newsroom.
The mission for the PAC is not entirely clear, but under federal election law super PACs can make only independent expenditures. The groups, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, are barred from making direct contributions to campaigns.
In the past, FreedomWorks has run some political advertisements, but its primary focus has been, and will remain, grass-roots activism and turning out the vote.
“Our value-added is still organizing on the ground,” Kibbe said. FreedomWorks will focus on as many as a dozen Senate seats in 2012, he said.
From 1995 to 2005 the group operated a traditional PAC, called FreedomWorks PAC, which reached its spending peak in 1998 and 2000, spending about $2 million in each cycle.
FreedomWorks, which initially claimed the tea party banner after organizing what were dubbed “9/12” rallies on Capitol Hill and around the country in September 2009, has backed away from the big Washington demonstrations that first put it on the map. The focus now is on policy battles and elections at the state level.
“It doesn’t make strategic sense to do big protests,” Kibbe said. “We did that; we made our point. The likelihood of making any real positive reform here is limited.”