John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Madison Project: Running Far From Its Original Purpose

Posted on January 16, 2014
Jim Ryun

Jim Ryun

The Madison Project's Initial Purpose

It doesn’t take long to get a little nauseous diving into the intricacies of the group called the Madison Project.

Like most things surrounding former Olympic Athlete and defeated Congressman Jim Ryun, it’s a family affair.

Ryun ostensibly runs the Madison Project, which was initially founded in the late 1990’s as the pro-life version of Emily’s List.

Emily’s List, which stands for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” funds pro-choice female candidate.   The Madison Project used to fund pro-life candidates from either gender.

But that’s not what the Madison Project does anymore.

These days, the Madison Project seems to have two primary goals:  To help the Ryun family makes some money and to make it harder for Republicans to capture the Senate.

The Ryun Family Enterprise

The Ryun family enterprise tries to make the most out of Jim Ryun’s past accomplishments, which are impressive.

They run a bunch of running camps, because Jim Ryun was a very, very fast runner when he was younger, and is undoubtedly still a fast runner today.

And second, they try to capitalize on the fact that when Jim Ryun was a member of Congress in 2006, he got the label as the most conservative member of the House.

Unfortunately for him, the exact same year he got that distinction, he lost in his bid for reelection.

Maybe his constituents didn’t want him to be most conservative member of the House.  Maybe they wanted him to actually do something.

Ryun lost his election because of bad luck (2006 was a bad year for Republicans), mistakes (he denied knowing that Mark Foley was his neighbor when he had thrown a joint fund-raiser with him the year before), and ethical questions (he bought his town-house from a shady organization loosely tied to Jack Abramoff  at below market-prices) that diminished his standing with his constituents.

Ryun tried a comeback in 2008, but he lost in a primary, and now he has given up on running for office.

Instead, he and his sons have decided to make some money in the politics game.

The tangled web that is Team Ryun can be a bit confusing.

American Majority

The Madison Project is funded in part by a Tea Party organization called American Majority, which is run by his son Ned Ryun.   The American Majority says this about itself:
“American Majority is the organizing arm of the Right. We are helping put in place the nation’s new, conservative grassroots political infrastructure. American Majority uses cutting-edge training and technology to empower individuals and groups with the most effective tools for promoting liberty through limited government.”

American Majority is funded primarily by the Sam Adams Alliance.  I have no earthly idea who funds the Sam Adams Alliance.

Media Tracker

The Madison Project itself is run by the Ned Ryun’s brother, Drew.

Drew founded a non-profit called Media Tracker, that ostensibly dogs liberals and fact-checks the Main Stream Media, all worthy goals in my estimation.   Media Tracker’s claim to fame is that it is proved how political the IRS is by basically out-foxing them by changing the name of their group to Greenhouse Solutions.

They got a lot of press by manipulating the rules to make the IRS believe that they are left-leaning group, when actually they are a right-leaning group.

Kind of funny, huh?

This all goes to show how our current campaign finance laws are a joke, how easy it is to create shadowy organizations to promote just about any cause, and how, if you play the game right, you can make a healthy living playing the angles and making mischief.

Madison Project Has Strayed

I don’t really care much about the Madison Group and all of their shenanigans, except for one thing.

They are making it harder for Republicans to capture the Senate.

They just opened a field office in Kentucky to try to beat Mitch McConnell.  They have also endorsed Barack Obama’s cousin in a primary against Senator Pat Roberts.

Both McConnell and Roberts are 100 percent pro-life, which just goes to show how far the Madison project has strayed from its initial purpose.

Like the Senate Conservatives Fund and Freedom Works, the Madison Project is making it easier for Harry Reid to maintain control of the Senate by draining resources from winnable races (like Virginia, for example) to races that Republicans should already have in the bag.

If Republicans don’t capture the Senate in 2014, I can see a scenario where Harry Reid, thanks to his nuclear option rule change, strong arms all kinds of appointments from President Obama, including possible a new Supreme Court nominee (or two), through the Upper Chamber.

Republicans will be powerless to stop him.  If that happens, we can thank the Ryun family for all of their efforts to keep the Senate Majority in the hands of Harry Reid.

I wish they would stick to running.