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Hidden ties reveal Moore’s attachment to Club for Growth, breaks with Trump

Political campaigns often witness complex financial maneuvers aimed at obscuring the real backers of a candidacy.

Rep. Barry Moore

In a political twist brought about by Alabama’s recent redistricting, the state’s 1st Congressional District has become the stage for an extraordinary showdown. Two incumbent Republican congressmen, Barry Moore formerly of District 2, and Jerry Carl current representative of District 1, find themselves locked in a high-stakes duel.

Moore, a congressman since 2020, previously enjoyed the support of the influential Club for Growth in his bids for the 2nd Congressional District. The Club for Growth, a 501(c)(4) organization, is known for its significant sway in conservative politics. However, they notably opposed Carl in his 2020 campaigns, given his refusal to capitulate to their demands.

In a surprising turn of events, Moore has publicly distanced himself from the Club for Growth in this election cycle, citing their “antagonism” against former President Donald Trump. However, APR may have unearthed connections linking Moore to a Club for Growth affiliate actively supporting his campaign against Carl.

Political campaigns often witness complex financial maneuvers aimed at obscuring the real backers of a candidacy. According to a November 2023 FEC filing, Thomas Datwyler, a key figure associated with Club for Growth and a consultant for the controversial Axiom Strategies, was named as the treasurer of the pro-Moore super-PAC “Defend Alabama.” This connection is noteworthy, given Datwyler’s history as treasurer for a Club for Growth-aligned PAC that opposed JD Vance in the 2022 GOP primary in Ohio.

The Club for Growth’s relationship with Donald Trump is layered and complicated, mirroring the sometimes opaque nature of the organization itself. Initially, the Club invested heavily in opposing Trump during the 2016 GOP primary. They later aligned with him during his presidency, only to revert to their anti-Trump stance in the recent primary cycle. After their anti-Trump advertising proved ineffective, there are now whispers of the Club seeking to reconcile with Trump.

The intersection of Datwyler, Club for Growth, Axiom Strategies, and Barry Moore forms a complex web, particularly as Trump contemplates an endorsement of either Carl or Moore. This complexity is further compounded by reports from Politico indicating Trump’s disfavor toward Republican strategist Jeff Roe and his firm, Axiom Strategies, for supporting Ron DeSantis. Roe, who brought Datwyler into Axiom by acquiring 9Seven Consulting, faces scrutiny as his firm is viewed as unfavorable by Trump’s inner circle.

“Former President Donald Trump and people in his inner circle have told down-ballot Republican candidates not to hire Republican strategist Jeff Roe or his political consulting firm after Roe worked to elect Ron DeSantis, according to four people familiar with the conversations,” Politico reported earlier this month. 

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“It’s an open secret that candidates who want to stay on President Trump’s good side should not hire Axiom,” said one of the four people, an influential Republican strategist who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “They are enemy No. 1.”

In another noteworthy issue of Datwyler’s involvement, is another controversy. FEC records from 2023 show him paying over $20,000 in administrative fines for allegedly violating federal campaign finance reporting requirements. This revelation, reported by the Frederick News-Post, adds a layer of contention to his role in Moore’s campaign.

As the 2024 race heats up, Moore’s decision to engage in a political battle against fellow Republican Carl in Alabama could be marred by the perceived association with the Club for Growth by proxy. This intra-party contest in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District is set to be a defining moment for the state’s GOP.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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