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The NRCC was formed in 1866, when the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate formed a "Congressional Committee". It supports the election of Republicans to the House through direct financial contributions to candidates and Republican Party organizations; technical and research assistance to Republican candidates and Party organizations; voter registration, education and turnout programs; and other Party-building activities. It is a registered 527 group.
The NRCC is always chaired by a Republican member of the House, who may serve up to two consecutive terms. It is governed by an Executive Committee of 11 members, which includes the party's Leader in the House ex officio, and other members elected by the Republican Conference following a House election.
The Chairman is elected by the House Republican Conference after each congressional election. The eight elected leaders of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives serve as ex officio members of the NRCC's executive committee.
The day-to-day operations of the NRCC are overseen by Executive Director Parker Poling, who manages a staff involved in campaign strategy development, planning and management, research, digital, communications, fundraising, administration, and legal compliance.
In addition to the Chairman, several other members of the House of Representatives aid the efforts of the Committee by overseeing various areas important to the NRCC.
The NRCC is broken down into several internal divisions which have various areas of responsibility: Executive, Treasury, Research, Political, Finance, Communications, and Digital.
|Joseph W. Babcock||Wisconsin||1893-1903|
|Frank P. Woods||Iowa||1913-1919|
|Simeon D. Fess||Ohio||1919-1922|
|William R. Wood||Indiana||1922-1933|
|Chester C. Bolton||Ohio||1933-1935|
|Joseph W. Martin Jr.||Massachusetts||1935-1939|
|J. William Ditter||Pennsylvania||1939-1943|
|Charles A. Halleck||Indiana||1943-1945|
|Leonard W. Hall||New York||1945-1953|
|Richard M. Simpson||Pennsylvania||1953-1960|
|William E. Miller||New York||1960-1961|
|Robert H. Michel||Illinois||1973-1975|
|Guy Vander Jagt||Michigan||1975-1992|
|Bill Paxon||New York||1993-1996|
|Tom Reynolds||New York||2003-2006|
Founded in the 2007-2008 election cycle by Congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan, the Young Guns program began as an organization of House Republicans dedicated to electing open seat and challenger candidates nationwide. The Young Guns fostered a strategy of opposing anything proposed by President Obama and earned the Republican Party moniker "The Party of No."
During the 2008 cycle, through a partnership of Republican volunteers, donors and 59 members of the House of Representatives, five House GOP challengers won against incumbent Democrats. Four of those were Young Guns - Tom Rooney (FL-16), Bill Cassidy (LA-06), Lynn Jenkins (KS-02), and Pete Olson (TX-22).
Under the leadership of Chairman Sessions, the NRCC adopted the Young Guns program as the candidate recruitment and training program for House Republicans. It is designed to assist Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. At a 2009 Republican leadership retreat, Congressman Pete Sessions held up an example of the Taliban waging "asymmetric warfare" against their enemies. He stated "the purpose of the minority was to become the majority."
This program is open to all Republican candidates - regardless of a primary or convention situation in their districts - with the ultimate goal of ensuring whoever the Republican nominee is, they are able to build the strongest campaign possible. Those enrolled work with NRCC staff to meet rigorous benchmarks designed to improve their campaign structure, fundraising, communications and online strategy.
There are three levels of the Young Guns program - "On the Radar," "Contender," and "Young Gun." In 2010, 92 campaigns were granted "Young Gun" status.
Beginning in 2015, the pilot Patriot Program provided funding to support 12 Republican candidates in key districts that historically voted Democrat in presidential elections. The program provides fundraising and organizational assistance with the goal of preserving a Republican majority in Congress. The incumbent candidates are considered vulnerable or close contests.
The current candidates endorsed by the Patriot Program are Rep. David Valadao (CA-21), Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10), Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Rep. John Faso (NY-19), Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), Rep. Jason Lewis (MN-02) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-22).
After the ban of soft money donations, the NRCC's fundraising sources and techniques have been criticized. For the 2004 election cycle, its top three donors included two Indian tribal clients of Jack Abramoff. Others include gambling interests (also related to Abramoff).
On September 21, 2006 Chairman Tom Reynolds met with lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to warn them to contribute only to Republicans and not to challengers from the Democratic Party because their donations would be tracked and they would lose favors among the Republican members of Congress. Similar activities of the K Street Project occurred when Davis was head of the NRCC; the organization was fined by the Federal Election Commission for transferring funds between PACs for the same candidates in violation of contribution limits.
The NRCC has also offered awards such as "Physician of the Year", "Businessman of the Year", "Columnist of the Year" and "Congressional Order of Merit" to very few individuals each year.
In 2006, just days before the November 7 midterm congressional elections, there were numerous reports of a series of automated phone calls ("robocalls") being authorized by the NRCC, with the apparent intention to confuse and annoy the supporters of Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. The automated call would typically begin by saying, "Hello, I'm calling with information about ___" and naming the Democratic candidate. If the recipient hung up, the call would be repeated, often several times, thus leading voters to believe incorrectly that the Democratic campaign was harassing them. The NRCC used the tactic in at least 53 competitive House races.
In New Hampshire, the state attorney general's office requested that the NRCC end the robocalls, but many individuals in the state continued to report receiving them. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent the NRCC a cease-and-desist letter. The DCCC letter cited the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation requiring that a prerecorded telephone call must identify the responsible entity at the beginning of the message, and must include the entity's telephone number. Because the NRCC's calls did not name the NRCC at the beginning and did not provide a contact phone number, the DCCC charged the NRCC with "a pattern of willful noncompliance with FCC requirements".
On March 13, 2008 the NRCC stated that its former treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, had apparently transferred "several hundred thousand dollars" in NRCC funds to "his personal and business bank accounts". An estimated $724,000 in losses were embezzled from the NRCC by Ward between 2001 and 2007. Ward has served as treasurer for 83 Republican committees and has done work for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
On June 6, 2008 the Department of Justice, in filing a civil forfeiture proceeding against Ward's house, alleged that Ward "made over $500,000 in unauthorized withdrawals" and that he used the money to make his mortgage payments and for home renovation.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) conducted a probe into disclosure reports submitted by the NRCC during Ward's tenure as treasurer. Guy Harrison, the executive director of NRCC, agreed to pay a $10,000 civil fine and signed a conciliation agreement with the FEC on June 10, 2010.
On December 2, 2010, a federal judge sentenced Ward to 37 months in prison for stealing more than $844,000 from the NRCC and other political fundraising committees for whom he worked as treasurer.
In 2008 the NRCC concentrated on trying to help incumbent Republicans win re-election. Even so, the committee had to make "triage"-type decisions about allocating its funds. In October 2008, it canceled several hundred thousand dollars worth of television advertising time slated for the re-election campaigns of Michele Bachmann, Marilyn Musgrave, and Tom Feeney, having concluded that they could not win. The decision drew criticism from the conservative Family Research Council, which stated, "It appears that the NRCC is abandoning social conservative candidates and the issues for which they stand...." Bachmann was the only one of those three who was successfully re-elected, winning a plurality of 46% of the vote in a three-way race.
In 2010, Republican candidates won a historic number of seats in the House of Representatives. Rep. Sessions and the NRCC staff received praise for harnessing voter sentiment and contributing to Republican gains.
The NRCC raised and spent tens of millions of dollars on independent expenditure advertising. Republicans won in 52 of the 66 seats where the NRCC made those expenditures.
The NRCC made some of its biggest gains in New York, where two incumbents won reelection and five seats flipped from being held by Democrats to being held by Republicans. In Pennsylvania, the Committee retained seven incumbents and flipped five seats from being held by Democrats to being held by Republicans. The Committee made gains across the midwest, where it won control of both North and South Dakota, and made sizeable gains in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The Committee targeted numerous veteran Democrats who held important posts in their party's leadership. The NRCC worked to help GOP candidates defeat Committee Chairmen John Spratt (Budget), Ike Skelton (Armed Services), and James Oberstar (Transportation and Infrastructure). In each of these cases, Republicans prevailed over the Democrats.