Republican Governors Association

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The Republican Governors Association (RGA), founded in 1963 is a 527 committee that "supports the election of Republican Governors and other nonfederal candidates, promotes Republican policies, and engages in other state election activities." [1] The RGA's primary mission, according to their website, "is to help elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation, but we are also dedicated to providing our governors with the resources to help them govern effectively." [1]

News and Controversies

RGA Launches Propaganda 'News' Site

The Republican Governors launched a "news" site in the summer of 2017 called "The Free Telegraph" that looks like a news site but is a propaganda site for the Republican party.[2] "The Free Telegraph blares headlines about the virtues of GOP governors, while framing Democrats negatively. It asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected," the LA Times reported.[2]

When The Free Telegraph first launched, the RGA did not disclose that it was behind the site. Only after the AP asked about the site did RGA add a disclosure to the bottom of the pages.[3]

"It's propaganda for sure, even if they have objective standards and all the reporting is 100 percent accurate," Republican communications veteran Rick Tyler told the LA Times.[2]

Mission Statement

  • To assist in the election of Republican gubernatorial candidates and the reelection of incumbent Republican Governors.
  • To utilize the talent, knowledge, creativity of the governors to effectively debate and shape public policy on issues affecting the states; and
  • To enable Republican Governors to express, develop and promote the philosophy of the Republican party at the state and local levels nationwide.

Activities in the 2011/2012 Wisconsin Recall Elections

Biggest Outside Spender

The Republican Governors Association (RGA)'s Political Action Committee "Right Direction Wisconsin" (RGA-RDW) has been the biggest outside spender in this year's Wisconsin recall election between Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. WDC reports that the group has spent $8.6 million since January 2012 with almost all of their spending going towards TV ads. RGA-RDW considers these ads to be "issue ads" and so does not file any disclosure about the donors whose funds make the ad buys possible. The RGA also operates a "527" group, which does disclose its donors to the IRS, and this may eventually provide some insight into the money behind RGA's messages.

RGA Runs Attack Ads

In late March, RGA-RDW ran three ads, one attacking Barrett, one attacking his main primary challenger Kathleen Falk, and one attacking both Barrett and Falk for their records as Milwaukee Mayor and Dane County Executive, respectively. Two weeks before the primary, the group sponsored another ad against Barrett, and after the May 8 primary, it ran three ads (here, here, and here) criticizing Barrett and praising Walker. One of RGA-RDW's most widely circulated ads claims to be all about the facts, but it omits key facts, such as the fact that unemployment rose 34 percent under Scott Walker during his term as Milwaukee County Executive, and it omits information about Wisconsin being ranked 50th out of 50 states in the nation on jobs. [4]

Koch Funding

Koch money is the RGA's top source for contributions in the 2012 election cycle, with the corporation's co-owner David Koch donating at least $2 million and the company itself giving $25,000. In 2010, the RGA spent $3.4 million to help get Walker elected, with $1 million in help from David Koch and another $50,000 from Koch Industries for RGA to spend among the gubernatorial candidates it was backing, including Walker. In addition, Koch Industries PAC was one of the largest contributors to Walker's campaign for office in 2010. [5]


RGA 'Key Investor' in Wis. Gov Scott Walker's Victory

The RGA spent $5 million in the November 2010 Wisconsin Governor's race between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett. The RGA focused its spending on TV ads attacking Walker's political opponent, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. As this photo shows, the RGA described itself as a "key investor" in Walker's victory. In its congratulations, the RGA notes that it "ran a comprehensive campaign including TV and internet ads and direct mail. The series of ads were devastating to Tom Barrett ... All told, RGA ran 8 TV ads and sent 8 pieces of mail for absentee, early voting, and GOTV, totaling 2.9 million pieces." [6]

RGA Funds Kasich's Run for Ohio Governor

Building a Better Ohio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich received support from Make Ohio Great, a front group for the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which spent $11 million supporting Kasich in the 2010 election. Make Ohio Great did not reveal the amount of money it gave to Building a Better Ohio or spent on ads defending SB 5, but a look at its 2010 records revealed that the RGA middle-manned money from private health care companies and corporations like Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, allowing out-of-state interests to silently support Kasich's campaign. [7]

Activities in the 2012 Wisconsin Recall

The RGA created a wisconsin-based Political Action Group, "Right Direction Wisconsin", in order to influence the 2011-2012 Wisconsin Recall. Most of their activities were directed at keeping Walker in power. WDC reports that the group has spent $8.6 million since January 2012 with almost all of their spending going towards TV ads. [8] In late March, RGA-RDW ran three ads, one attacking Barrett [9] one attacking his main primary challenger Kathleen Falk, [10] and one attacking both Barrett and Falk for their records as Milwaukee Mayor and Dane County Executive, respectively. After the primary, the group sponsored a major ad campaign against Tom Barrett, attacking his record on jobs [11]

Past Leadership

Ronald Reagan was chairman from 1968-1970, Tommy Thompson led the RGA in 1991-1992, and John Engler served in 1995-1996. [12]


The RGA is a 527 committee and does not disclose its funding. 527s are not regulated under state or federal campaign finance laws and there are no upper limits on contributions to 527s and no restrictions on who may contribute. There are no spending limits imposed on these organizations. [13]


In August, 2010 Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, parent company of Fox News Channel, donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.[14]

Contributions to the RGA are posted online by


In 2012, the RGA received $1,025,000 in donations from Koch Industries and another $1,025,000 from Las Vegas Sands.

Major Donors

Executive Committee

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA)
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
Gov. Nikki Harley (R-SC)
Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA)
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM)
Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)


Sean Parnell (AK)
Robert Bently (AL)
Jan Brewer (AZ)
Nathan Deal (GA)
Eddie Calvo (GU)
Butch Otter (ID)
Terry Brandstad (IA)
Mitch Daniels (IN)
Sam Brownback (KS)
Paul LePage (ME)
Rick Snyder (MI)
Phil Bryant (MS)
Jack Dalrymple (ND)
Dave Heineman (NE)
Benigo Fitial (NMT)
Brian Sandoval (NV)
John Kasich (OH)
Mary Fallin (OK)
Luis Fortuno (PR)
Dennis Daugaard
Bill Haslam (TN)
Rick Perry (TX)
Gary Herbert (UT)
Matt Mead (WY)


Jane Batson, Corporate Events Director
Monica Block, Governors Liaison
Ethan Breitling, Finance Assistant
Amy Burggraf, National Recruitment Coordinator
Phil Cox, Executive Director
Cara Edmundowicz, Executive Roundtable Deputy Director
Joanna Evans, Governors Council and Roundtable Membership Director
Ed Frank, Director of Film and Visual Media
DiAnne Graham, Executive Roundtable Director
Paige Hahn, Finance Director
Alex Harrison, Political Assistant
Ginny Clair Hitt, Executive Roundtable Assistant
Daniel Huey, Deputy Political Director
Charlie O’Neill, Events Coordinator
Josh Robinson, Political Director
Mike Schrimpf, Communications Director
Zaina Shaath, Corporate Membership Coordinator
Jon Thompson, Press Secretary
Jodi Vaccarelli, Director of Events, Corporate
Mary Ann Voigt, Statesmen, Cabinet and Board Director
Tim Whiting, Chief Financial Officer
Alden Wood, Executive Roundtable Assistant
Larissa Ziemann, Executive Assistant

Contact Information

Republican Governors Association
1747 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 250
Washington, DC 20006
Telephone: 202-662-4140


  1. about, RGA, accessed March 25, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bill Barrow,GOP governors launch 'news' site critics call propaganda, LA Times, September 19, 2017.
  3. Republican Governors Association, The Free Telegraph, The Free Telegraph, August 30, 2017.
  4. Eric Kleefed, Barrett: Walker Doesn’t Want People To Remember He Was Milwaukee County Executive, TPM, May 25, 2012
  5. Republican Governors Assn: Top Contributors, 2012 Cycle, Open Secrets, accessed June 1, 2012
  6. Lisa Graves, Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money, PR Watch, February 19, 2011
  7. Mike Ludwig, Ohio Labor Movement Defeats Anti-Union Bill and Its Wealthy Supporters, Truth Out, November 9, 2011
  8. William Dooling: Citizens United Unleashed in Wisconsin May 31st, 2012. Accessed June 1st, 2012
  9. Right Direction Wisconsin: Tom Barrett Internet Search Ad. Posted March 29th, 2012. Accessed June 1st, 2012.
  10. Right Direction Wisconsin: Kathleen Falk Internet Search Ad. Posted March 29th, 2012. Accessed June 1st, 2012.
  11. Right Direction Wisconsin: Just the Facts. Posted May 22nd, 2012. Accessed June 1st, 2012.
  12. about, RGA, accessed March 25, 2012
  13. 527s - Frequently Asked Questions, iwatchnews, accessed March 26, 2012
  14. Rachel Weiner Fox parent News Corp. donates $1 million to Republican Governors' Association, Washington Post, August 17, 2010
  15. Lisa Graves, Scott Walker Runs on KOch Money, PR Watch, February 19, 2011
  16. Lisa Graves, Scott Walker Runs on KOch Money, PR Watch, February 19, 2011
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