(Reuters) - In the 2008 presidential election, conservative grassroots groups were a cottage industry. But with the advent of the Tea Party, these groups have become more prominent and between them could raise more than $140 million in 2012.
Below are some estimates provided by these national groups to Reuters:
Americans for Prosperity. This group, with headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, is backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries.
AFP has operations in 34 states. In 2008 its lobbying and tax-exempt nonprofit arms together raised $14.5 million. That figure rose to $50 million in 2011, and AFP President Tim Phillips says the group expects to bring in $100 million this year.
Tea Party Patriots. A national umbrella group formed in 2009, Tea Party Patriots prides itself on having few paid staffers and no national office. Although relatively new, the group raised $12.2 million in 2011. The average donation was $40, with 90 percent of donations under $60. Representatives including co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said the group expects to raise $18 million in 2012.
American Majority (later also American Majority Action). In 2008, Purcellville, Virginia-based American Majority raised less than $1 million. In 2011 the sister groups, run by twin brothers Ned and Drew Ryun, raised $5 million. This bare-bones operation has stretched its budget to sponsor a NASCAR car this year as part of a drive to register voters. It has also teamed up with Political Gravity, which American Majority Action owns 30 percent of, to produce the Gravity app for conservative get-out-the-vote drives.
Ned Ryun says the two groups expect to raise $8 million between them this year.
FreedomWorks. Chaired by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey, Washington, D.C.-based FreedomWorks has been active this year in Republican U.S. Senate primary races in Indiana, Texas and Utah. In Wisconsin the group has handed out yard signs and door hangers for activists to distribute.
President Matt Kibbe did not disclose the group’s 2011 fundraising, but he said FreedomWorks raised more than in 2010 and expects another increase in 2012.
In 2010 tax filings show the group’s lobbyist and tax-exempt nonprofit arms raised a total of $13.5 million, up from $7.4 million in 2008.
Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Douglas Royalty