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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Outside Democratic Groups

Just as American Crossroads tried to match Democratic efforts, now Democrats are trying to match American Crossroads. AP reports:

The Democratic-leaning groups include House Majority PAC; Majority PAC, focusing on Senate races; American Bridge, which will help the other Democratic groups with opposition research, and Priorities USA, which will support Obama’s re-election bid.

That last group was founded by former Obama White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney and will accept the kind of large, anonymous donations Obama has deplored.

Priorities USA launched its first ad last weekend, criticizing Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in South Carolina, an early primary state, during a Romney campaign visit.

“With Mitt Romney, you have to wonder ... what page is he on today?” the ad said.

Romney’s campaign shot back, calling the ad a smear and suggesting Obama was behind it.

“President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work,” Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.

The action on the Democratic side is only encouraging Republican-aligned groups to ramp up their spending in 2012.

The Republican Super PAC, a potentially significant new player, is pushing the outer boundaries of campaign finance law: Its founder, campaign finance lawyer Jim Bopp, says the group plans to ask GOP elected officials to solicit unlimited contributions, which the group would then spend to help that official or any other candidate the official designates. Many campaign finance experts insist such coordination is illegal because federal office holders are permitted only to raise contributions that are subject to strict limits — up to $2,500 per person for a candidate and $30,800 for one of the national parties.

Bopp, a Republican National Committee member who helped steer the Citizens United case, said that since contributions to independent expenditure groups are not subject to limits, elected officials can raise unlimited donations for his group.

...

“I don’t think Bopp can do what he says he wants to do, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else does,” said David Keating, director of the Republican-leaning Club for Growth. “Maybe he thinks he is going to win a court case, and if he does, great. We can all follow in his footsteps.”

That’s also the thinking among Democrats, who are eager not to be outsmarted again. The directors of Majority PAC and the House Majority PAC sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission last week seeking an opinion on Bopp’s effort. If it’s determined to be legal, they can be expected to follow suit.

At Politico, Kasie Hunt reports on American Bridge, founded by David Brock:

Initially billed as a massive Democratic group that would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Republican candidates in 2012, American Bridge has scaled back and reorganized following the launch of Priorities USA, the independent expenditure group headed by Obama White House veterans. Their new goal: build a comprehensive video library for Democratic ad makers to use to defeat Republican House and Senate candidates — and, of course, the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

"We will definitely have the biggest research and tracking shop in politics," said Chris Harris, a spokesman for the group.

American Bridge's tracking arm is led by Kelli Farr, who worked with Harris at Progressive Accountability, a similar but much smaller tracking effort that operated during the 2008 campaign. Her title is "tracking director" — and as recently as last week she was advertising on left-wing job boards for more trackers to hire.

Leading the overall effort is Rodell Mollineau, who until recently ran the Democratic communications war room in the Senate for Majority Leader Harry Reid.