Sen. Jim DeMint is cutting formal ties to his wildly successful small-donor fundraising machine, the Senate Conservatives Fund, so that it can form a super PAC, POLITICO has learned.
The super PAC will be able to raise and spend without limits, letting the South Carolina Republicans operatives make runs at the kind of mega donors who have redefined the 2012 fundraising season.
Since 2009, DeMint has raised more than $17 million to promote promising candidates in an effort to remake the Senate not just in a Republican image but in a die-hard conservative one.
The move could expand his reach and influence in politics, particularly in the months after the Supreme Courts decision to uphold President Barack Obamas health care law, which served as a rallying cry for Republicans in 2010 and will likely be a centerpiece in 2012.
It will also test whether a rock star congressional fundraiser can attract the kind of megabucks that have been flowing to presidential candidates this year. Party leaders in Congress have launched super PACs with mixed results, but DeMint is positioning himself as an independent power outside the party structure, and, if his success continues, he could spawn copycats among members of Congress looking to make their mark quickly.
The SCF spinoff is called Senate Conservatives Action, and its launching with a new website, senateaction.com, on Monday.
If were going to save this country, we have to elect more conservatives to the U.S. Senate, DeMint said. Making the Senate Conservatives Fund independent of me will allow it do even more to elect the kind of leaders we need to repeal Obamacare and balance the budget.