Entries in Priorities USA (4)


Pro-Obama SuperPAC Running Almost 100 Percent of All Anti-Bain Ads

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- A new study by the media tracking group Kantar Media’s CMAG finds that almost all of the negative TV advertising about Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital has come from the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA, not from the Obama campaign.

Earlier this summer, a number of high-profile Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, publicly criticized Obama’s decision to attack Romney’s work for the private equity firm.

“I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work; this is good work,” Clinton said on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, adding: “There’s no question that, in terms of getting up, going to the office, and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who’s been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”

But, when it comes to TV advertising, it’s not Obama who is doing the name calling -- but he hasn't decried his supporters who are.

The study by CMAG found that over the last three and a half months, “fewer than one percent of all ad occurrences sponsored by the Obama campaign have mentioned Bain Capital by name." Instead, it is the SuperPAC run by two former White House staffers -- Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney -- that is doing almost all of the heavy lifting on the Bain attack.

From April 10 through June 28, 2012, writes Kantar Media’s CMAG, “100% of all ad occurrences sponsored by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action have mentioned Bain Capital by name.”

In February, Obama reversed his long-standing opposition to SuperPACs and gave his approval to the fledgling group. 

Those who follow campaign advertising say ads by Democratic and Republican SuperPACs are almost exclusively negative. And, while the campaigns are prohibited from co-coordinating with SuperPACs, you could even say that the dirty work of campaigning has been “outsourced” to these independent groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Changing Positions, Obama Campaign Will Push Support for Democratic Super PAC

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- In a conference call with members of President Obama’s 2012 re-election committee Monday evening, campaign manager Jim Messina announced that donors should start funding Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC run by two former White House staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney.

“Given the amount of money that the Republican super PACs have raised we decided to express more explicitly support for Priorities USA and its mission, which is re-electing the president,” a top campaign official told ABC News.

Burton and Sweeney left the White House in February 2011 to start Priorities USA, which has two components.

Priorities USA Action is the super PAC arm and it must disclose the names and amounts of donors. It can raise and spend unlimited funds, including from corporations and unions, on overt electioneering. Priorities USA is a non-profit 501c organization that does not disclose its donors, but can’t do overt electioneering -- only issue/policy advocacy.

The Obama campaign is encouraging support for the super PAC -- the one that discloses.

You may recall the president made a big issue opposing the non-disclosing groups in the 2010 midterm elections in which Democrats lost the House. Specifically, President Obama repeatedly protested the way these groups filled the airwaves with television ads -- essentially from anonymous contributors.

“They don’t have the courage to stand up and disclose their identities,” President Obama said on Oct. 15, 2010, of these groups’ donors while campaigning in Wilmington, Del. “They could be insurance companies or Wall Street banks or even foreign-owned corporations. We will not know because there’s no disclosure. But this isn’t just a threat to the Democrats: It’s a threat to our democracy.”

Messina said on the call Monday evening, and emailed supporters, that Republican super PACs have “spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads,” just in the last few months:

“Last week, filings showed that the super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies … With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Priorities USA Action posted comparatively weak fundraising totals for 2011, raising just $4.4 million in all, per its filing with the Federal Election Commission, and ending the year with just $1.5 million cash on hand. The donor base was also small -- only 46 individuals gave in the second half of last year. Most of them are Obama campaign donors from 2008 and 2012 who maxed out and wanted to give more; two of the most notable and generous are Jeffrey Katzenberg ($2 million) and Steven Spielberg ($100,000).

Senior campaign and White House officials as well as some Cabinet members will appear at events that raise money for Priorities USA Action, though they themselves will not solicit funds, the campaign official said. (Cabinet officials who raise money for the campaign include Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan; those who don’t include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder.)

Messina noted that “the president, vice president, and first lady will not be a part of this effort; their political activity will remain focused on the President’s campaign.”

“As has become evident in the past month, the only enthusiasm in the Republican Party is among oil company billionaires and investment bankers on Wall Street looking to defeat President Obama,” Burton said in a statement. “We’re committed to providing a balance to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers who have pledged more than half a billion dollars to their effort.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Group Run by Former Obama Staffers Runs Romney Attack Ad

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Priorities USA Action -- the independent group run by former Obama White House staffers including former deputy press secretary Bill Burton -- launched the first advertisement of the 2012 presidential campaign Friday focusing on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's visit to South Carolina this weekend.

The ad, which the group says will run in South Carolina, goes after Romney, saying: "Newt Gingrich says the Republican plan that would essentially end Medicare is too 'radical.' (South Carolina) Governor Haley thinks the plan is courageous, and Gingrich shouldn't be cutting conservatives off at the knees. Mitt Romney says he's 'on the same page' as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare. But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder...which page is he on today?"

Andrea Saul, spokesperson for the Romney for President Exploratory Committee, said in a statement: "President Obama's first campaign ad is an attack ad.  President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work.  With 9.6% unemployment in South Carolina, voters are looking for a jobs plan not a smear campaign."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


'Good Govt' Group to Ask IRS for Investigation of Group Run by Former WH Staffers

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer Friday indicated his group and the Campaign Legal Center would ask the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the new group Priorities U.S.A., an independent organization that does not need to disclose its donors that will participate in the 2012 election.
Having called for an IRS investigation into the conservative independent group Crossroads GPS last October, Wertheimer said in a statement, Democracy 21 will call for a “similar investigation of whether Priorities U.S.A. is operating in violation of its section 501(c)(4) tax status because it has a primary purpose of participating in political campaigns in support of, or in opposition to, candidates for public office.”
Priorities U.S.A. is run by former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, the former chief of staff to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Last year, President Obama was very critical of groups such as Crossroads GPS, which former Bush political guru Karl Rove helped found, telling a Delaware crowd that anonymous donors to these independent groups “don't have the courage to stand up and disclose their identities. They could be insurance companies or Wall Street banks or even foreign-owned corporations. We will not know because there's no disclosure. But this isn't just a threat to the Democrats: It's a threat to our democracy.”
American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio called the formation of these new Democratic independent groups  evidence of President Obama’s “brazen hypocrisy” since according to Collegio -- though there is no evidence of it -- President Obama “encourage(ed) his own operatives to start groups exactly like the ones he demagogued last year.”
Sweeney Friday issued a statement saying that the new groups are part of “an effort to level the playing field.  Americans deserve an honest debate about job creation, the economy, national security and education.  That debate will never happen if only right wing extremists are engaged on the battlefield.”
Wertheimer Friday said the two independent groups founded by Sweeney and Burton “clearly have been formed to make expenditures in support of the re-election of President Obama in 2012” and thus should not be allowed to exist in the tax code as “social welfare groups” that don’t have to disclose donors.
Asked for comment Friday about the groups, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We don’t control outside groups. These are not people working for the administration.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

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