“Help us fund the fight by making an emergency donation of $30, $50 or even $100 today,” the email said, even though records show that Mr. Ward’s PAC spends every dollar it gets on consultants, mailings and fund-raising — making no donations to candidates. Mr. Ward defended his use of his own firm, saying he gives his PAC a discount on his company’s regular service charges.
Mr. Ward has plenty of competitors. Groups including the Tea Party Leadership Fund, the Madison Project and the Tea Party Patriots have in the past year turned the attack on the Republican leadership into a fund-raising tool, records show.
The messages have resonated deeply throughout the conservative news media, from Fox News to Breitbart.com, helping to force out Mr. Boehner, to undermine a potential replacement, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, and to discredit Mr. Ryan, a process that is starting to cause a backlash among some Republicans.
“This is clearly an organized effort and an attempt by these groups to raise money for themselves,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who added that she was the target of a similar attack during the 2013 Senate debate over gun safety legislation. “They hurt our party, they hurt our Congress and they hurt our country.”