Citizens for the Republic

Citizens for the Republic (CFTR)


Citizens for the Republic (CFTR) is a political action committee founded by Ronald Reagan in 1977 to “attract conservative support.”  The New York Times reported in 1985 that Reagan had praised his own PAC for ”turning the direction of the United States around.” [1], [2], [3]

Citizens for the Republic was formed using money and mailing lists left over from Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. The Nation noted that “Though aspects of CFTR were later determined to be illegal, the notion of using nonprofits between election cycles to pave the way for presidential campaigns has since become commonplace.” [4]

While CFTR was dormant for years, in 2007, a revitalized CFTR managed to secure $17 million in financial commitments and was headed by a group of former Ronald Reagan affiliations. CFTR participants at the time included Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, former Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt, former Reagan attorney general Richard Allen, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and conservative activists Brent Bozell and Gary Bauer, The Atlantic reported. [8]

Craig Shirley’s lobbying firm, Shirley & Banister, claimed to have played a role in helping the “Tea Party Patriots in its rise to prominence as the premiere grassroots group in the country.”  [23]

According to the CFTR‘s website, “Today, the belief that man’s freedom comes from God and not the State is once again in danger of being extinguished in America. Once again, the Republican Party is in danger of extinction.” Working to “renew the conservative movement,” Citizens for the Republic says its “fights are many” and include “leftist, big government elites.” [1]

In addition to the Citizens for the Republic PAC, public nonprofit tax filings indicate that separate entities exist for a “Citizens for the Republic, Inc.” (EIN 32-0234718) and a “Citizens for the Republic Foundation” (EIN 26-4617515) [5], [6], [7]

Bloomberg notes that Citizens for the Republic operates as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare group,” which under federal law does not have to disclose its funding sources. Diana Banister, CFTR‘s executive director (and also President of the PR firm Shirley & Banister), said that contributors to CFTR are “small donors, mostly” and “nothing competitive with” Musk. Asked whether oil companies supported their website, Banister says: “We reached out to them [for donations], but they haven’t responded.” [14][15]

The Sunlight Project

According to their website, The Sunlight Project’s mission is to “ferret out corruption that wastes taxpayer dollars and continually undermines the American people in favor of the powerful and profitable.” [9]

The Sunlight Project describes the solar industry as “Big Energy”, and a “pet-industry of the Obama Administration.” [9]

Attack on Elon Musk

Citizens for the Republic is behind the “Stop Elon Musk from Failing Again” ( campaign, which describes itself as an initiative launched by the Sunlight Project, under Citizens for the republic “to root out corruption, fraud and abuse of taxpayer of money in major corporations.” The website claims that “Elon Musk has defrauded the American Taxpayer out of over $4.9 Billion in the form of subsidies, grants, and other favors.” It targets Elon Musk, Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX. [10]

Diana Banister, CFTR‘s executive director, announced the campaign, saying it would mobilize “public opinion, advertising, grassroots advocacy, testimony and legislation” opposing federal solar subsidies. [23]

EcoWatch reported that the $4.9 billion figure originated from a Los Angeles Times story which, Musk suggested, was planted after the International Monetary Fund’s report detailing the fossil fuel industry’s recepit of over $5 trillion in subsidies per year. [11], [12]

According to the Washington Examiner, the campaign started days before Tesla approved a merger with sister company SolarCity. “The Musk empire appears to be nothing more than a collection of failing startups and plummeting stock options,” the group said in a statement. “Even the once-touted SolarCity had to be bought out by Tesla” to survive, it added. [13]

Citizens for the Republic regularly republishes news from its “” critical of Elon Musk and his companies. [16]

Stance on Climate Change

On Solar Subsides

“The U.S. government needs to stop meddling in industries and create an atmosphere that allows business to prosper without pledging taxpayer support.” [17]


Koch Connection

The Center for Responsive Politics found that two of the major funders of Citizens for the Republic—the Wellspring Committee and the Annual Fund—which together donated nearly $1 million to CFTR between 2010 and 2011, are part of the powerful Koch network. Wellspring in particular was described as a “dark money conduit” by the Koch brothers. [24], [25]

DeSmog has documented the Koch Brothers’ multi-million-dollar-per-year attack on clean energy at

Funding Breakdown

The Conservative Transparency Project offers a sample of some of the funders of Citizens for the Republic: [18]

Donor & YearTotal
Annual Fund$475,000
Jerry Perenchio$27,475
Wellspring Committee$360,000
Grand Total$862,475

FEC Data (Citizens for the Republic PAC)

990 Forms – Citizens for the Republic Foundation

990 Forms – Citizens for the Republic, Inc.

Key People

According to data from publicly-available 990 records, as well as the Citizens for the Republic website: [19][20]

Name & Organization20092010201120122013201420152016Title
Citizens for the Republic Foundation         
Craig ShirleyYYYYYY  Chairman
Citizens for the Republic, Inc.         
Cleta Mitchell YYYYYY Secretary
Craig Shirley YYYYYYYChairman
Dan Oliver YYYYYYYDirector
Diana Banister YYYYYYYExecutive Director
Ed Meese YYYYYYYDirector
Laura Ingraham      YYNational Chairman
Mari Maseng Will YYYYYYYDirector
Neal B. Freeman       YDirector
Peter Hannaford YYYYYY Director
William W. Pascoe, III YY     Executive Vice President


“Elon Musk News”

As part of their “Sunight Project,” Citizens for the Republic has been re-posting “Daily Elon Musk News” on their website (cross-posted on Their “news” stories, taken from a variety of sources, feature regular attacks on Elon Musk, his companies, and the renewable energy industry. Some recent examples include: [16]

  • Shirley & Banister Public Affairs

Craig Shirley, Chairman of Citizens for the Republic, is also President and CEO of Shirley & Panister Public Affairs. Clients of the group have included the Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, National Rifle Association, National Taxpayers Union, Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington Times Foundation, and others. [21] 

Diana Banister, Executive Director of CFTR, is President of the firm. She was promoted from Vice President and then named a partner in 2001. [15]

Contact & Address

Citizens for the Republic PACFEC Identification Number C00436675)

Based on the most recent available FEC Data (October, 2016), Citizens for the Republic PAC listed the following address:

122 South Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Citizens for the Republic Foundation – EIN 26-4617515

According to the 2014 990 form for Citizens for the Republic Foundation, it shared the physical address of Citizens for the Republic, Inc.:

919 Prince St. 
Alexandria, VA 22314

Citizens for the Republic Inc. – EIN 32-0234718

According to their 2014 990 form Citizens for the Republic Inc. had the following address & contact:

919 Prince St. 
Alexandria, VA 22314

The website,, lists their copyright owner as “Citizens for the Republic, Inc.” and maintains the same address as above. [22]

Social Media


  1. OUR HISTORY,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 17, 2016. URL
  2. Nominations & Appointments, May 8, 1984.” Reagan Library. Archived December 16, 2016. URL
  3. Marjorie Hunter and Warren Weaver Jr. “BRIEFING,” The New York Times, March 23, 1985. Archived December 16, 2016. URL:
  4. Buchanan Inc.: How Pat and Bay Built an Empire on Our Money,” The Nation, November 4, 1999. Archived October 6, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  5. Citizens for the Republic PAC,” OpenSecrets. Accessed December 16, 2016.
  6. CITIZENS FOR THE REPUBLIC INC,” Economic Research Institute. Accessed December 16, 2016.
  7. CITIZENS FOR THE REPUBLIC FOUNDATION INC,” Economic Research Institute. Accessed December 16, 2016.
  8. Rick Moran. “GOP To Go ‘Back to the Future?’American Thinker, October 6, 2007. Archived December 16, 2016. URL
  9. THE SUNLIGHT PROJECT,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 16, 2016. URL
  10. About,” Stop Elon Musk from Failing Again. Archived December 16, 2016. URL:
  11. Lorraine Chow. “Anti-Elon Musk Campaign Has Big Ties to Big Energy,” EcoWatch, November 25, 2016. Archived December 17, 2016. URL:
  12. Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies,” Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2015. Archived December 16, 2016. URL
  13. John Siciliano. “Tesla CEO becomes target after Trump election,” Washington Examiner, November 18, 2016. URL:
  14. Paul Barrett. “Elon Musk vs. the Trolls,” Bloomberg, November 22, 2016. Archived December 16, 2016. URL:
  15. About Us,” Shirley & Banister. Archived December 17, 2016. URL
  16. NEWS,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 16, 2016. URL
  17. SOLAR SUBSIDIES,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 16, 2016. URL:
  18. Citizens for the Republic,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed December 16, 2016.
  19. Board of Directors,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 17, 2016. URL:
  20. Board of Directors,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived June 11, 2015. URL: 
  21. Clients,” Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. Archived February 11, 2004. URL
  22. Contact Us,” Citizens for the Republic. Archived December 17, 2016. URL:
  23. Jamie Doward. “The trolling of Elon Musk: how US conservatives are attacking green tech,The Guardian, December 4, 2016. Archived December 27, 2016. URL:
  24. Viveca Novak and Peter Stone. “The JCN Story: Building a Secretive GOP Judicial Machine,” Centre for Responsive Politics, March 23, 2015. Archived December 18, 2016. URL:
  25. Citizens for the republic: Receipts reported to IRS by Contributing Organizations,” Centre for Responsive Politics. Accessed December 17, 2016.

Other Resources

Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.” [1], [2] According to its agency profile at O'Dwyers, “APCO Worldwide is a...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology. [1] Background Hugh W. Ellsaesser, born in 1920, is a meteorologist by training and retired “guest scientist” at the Lawren...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974). [1]B.A. University of Minnesota-Twin (1965). [1] Background Alfred (Al) Pekarek is a former ass...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. [1], [2] Background Benny Peiser is a sports ...