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Entries in Super PAC (40)

Thursday
Mar212013

Former Romney Campaign Manager Forms Super PAC to Combat Dems

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The world of political opposition research got a little more crowded on Thursday with the formation of a new Republican super PAC aimed at roughing up Democratic candidates, particularly the 2016 presidential contenders.

The group, headed by Mitt Romney’s former campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, plans to expose political opponents “for pandering, flip-flopping, corruption, conflicts of interest and more,” according to talking points obtained by ABC News.

The group will be called America Rising and it is meant to be the Republican answer to the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, which launched during the 2012 cycle with a similar mission.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” American Bridge president Rodell Mollineau said in an interview. “A few words of caution: It’s not as easy as it looks.”

Mollineau said the group’s founders, including Rhoades and two former Republican National Committee officials, will soon confront “a bevy of operational financial political considerations.” And he pointed out that American Bridge has a two-year head start and one presidential election cycle under its belt.

Nevertheless, officials with America Rising see their upstart group as filling a void.

“We plan to start this enterprise because so many Republicans seem to agree there is a need on our side of the aisle for an entity that is focused solely on holding Democrats accountable for their actions and records using research, candidate tracking, rapid response and digital tools,” Rhoades said in a statement.

And the Republican operatives say they are not only going to “mimic” Mollineau and his team, they plan to “lap” the Democrats by “a) investing in an online infrastructure that has never before been built for political research, b) using the Super PAC as a testing ground for finding the most effective digital and rapid response tools for disseminating information about Democrat candidates and left-wing causes.”

Joining Rhoades in the venture are former RNC spokesman Tim Miller and former RNC research director Joe Pounder, both of whom are experienced GOP political hands. The organization will have two arms — one to provide campaigns, advocacy groups and party committees with research and tracking intelligence and another that will spearhead communications, social media and digital advertising. The group says it will not run television ads.

The formation of a GOP research arm was among the recommendations contained in Monday’s release of the RNC’s post-election “autopsy” report.

In 2011 and 2012, American Bridge dispatched trackers around the country, focusing on both the Republican presidential hopefuls as well as GOP candidates in key U.S. Senate races. The group also produced reams of research material on those on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential short list.

Mollineau said that Republican House, Senate, gubernatorial and presidential candidates are all on his super PAC’s target list in the coming election cycles. And he told ABC News he harbored no ill will toward the new GOP effort — even tweeting a congratulatory message to Miller on Thursday.

“Our job is to hold Republicans accountable for their actions,” Mollineau said. “I don’t necessarily see that as being at war with a Republican version of American bridge.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

Stephen Colbert to Donate Super PAC Money to Charity and Nonprofits

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Stephen Colbert did his part in 2012 to make super PACs something to talk about, even going so far as to create his own super PAC,  Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.

Colbert’s PAC got a lot of attention.  It raised awareness about loosened campaign finance laws after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizen’s United case, along with some actual money, which Colbert announced on his talk show that he plans to donate to charity.

Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow had about $800,000 left in its coffers when the group filed its termination report with the Federal Elections Commission in November.  On Thursday, Colbert announced he planned to donate $125,000 to three organizations working toward Superstorm Sandy relief: Habitat for Humanity, Team Rubicon’s Sandy outreach and DonorsChoose.org’s Sandy relief fund.

The remaining money will be split between the Yellow Ribbon Fund, an organization that assists injured veterans and their families, and two nonprofit groups that focus on transparency and campaign finance reform -- the Campaign Legal Center and the Center for Responsive Politics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep202012

Money Race: Obama Super PAC Beats Romney Super PAC for the First Time

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- The top super PAC backing President Obama has topped its Romney-supporting counterpart for the first time ever in fundraising, if the group’s claims are true.

Priorities USA Action raised $10 million in August, the group announced on Sept. 4, claiming its best monthly haul to date.

The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future raised $7 million in the same month, according to disclosures filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. Priorities, the top super PAC backing President Obama, has not yet filed its August fundraising numbers with the FEC. Publicly pre-announced fundraising numbers are generally reliable, since groups know they will have to disclose those figures eventually.

This would mark the first time Priorities has out-raised Restore in any FEC filing period, including every month of 2012 and the first and second halves of 2011. The closest it came was within $96k in May. Aside from that month, Restore has dominated: In June, for instance, Restore raised $20.7 million while Priorities raised $6.6 million.

A fundraising edge for Priorities would be significant, given that Republicans have dominated the outside-money race throughout 2012. Last year, Priorities got off to a slow start as Obama’s categorical criticism of super PACs sent mixed messages to Democratic donors. In 2011, Priorities USA Action raised $4.3 million, while Restore Our Future raised $30.1 million.

Priorities USA Action has a more secretive sister 501(c)4 group, Priorities USA, which does not disclose its fundraising totals to the Federal Election Commission, making it impossible to know how much money the Priorities operation raised in August combined.

It should be noted that big donors have more super PAC options than these two. The GOP money machine American Crossroads, for instance, out-raised the Democratic down-ballot super PACs Majority PAC and House Majority PAC significantly in July -- $7.1 million to a combined $3.2 million. The latter group has upped its fundraising dramatically to $5.6 million in August, signifying an uptick for Democrats.

But the August advantage for Obama’s top super PAC provides a feel-good moment for the president’s supporters, signifying a greater appetite among wealthy Democratic donors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Super PAC Co-Founder Says Democrats Should ‘Be Very Nervous’

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- When it comes to a battle of the bankrolls, Bill Burton, co-founder of the super PAC Priorities USA Action, has got a serious warning for Democrats gathered for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

“I think Democrats should be very nervous,” Burton said on the ABC News/Yahoo News DNC Live Show Wednesday.  “On the Republican side, that money’s not that big of a deal.  On the Democratic side, people aren’t giving for the same kinds of reasons. … You know, most of our contributions come from the entertainment industry.  They’re not gonna sell more movie tickets because Barack Obama gets elected president.  They just care about the issues that are important to Democrats.”

Still, his super PAC is doing pretty well, he told ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein.  Burton noted he’s seen a major uptick in donations in the last month -- including a fresh, half a million dollar check Tuesday night at the convention.

“How does that work?” asked Walter.  “Does somebody just write it to you, and then you just put in in your pocket?”

“That does sometimes happen,” Burton laughed.  “They just write it.  But I don’t have it on me right now.”

Burton said his super PAC is spending in Wisconsin, the home state of possible Republican Vice President Paul Ryan, and he also predicted President Obama will take North Carolina in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug142012

Debunked, 'Disgusting' Ad Tying Romney to Cancer Death Allegedly Airs ‘in Error’

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A controversial TV ad tying Mitt Romney to a woman’s cancer death aired Tuesday for the first time in Ohio, allegedly in error, according to the pro-Obama super PAC that produced it.

"Station error is all," explained Priorities USA Action senior strategist Bill Burton. "Kind of like when the Florida station accidentally aired Restore Our Future's anti-Gingrich ad in June."

The ethics and accuracy of the claims in the 30-second spot -- titled "Understands" -- have been the subject of intense debate since it first appeared online one week ago, with former President Clinton aide Lanny Davis calling it "disgusting."

His criticism wasn't alone. Republicans and some other Democrats say the group crossed a line in suggesting Romney’s role at Bain Capital contributed to a woman’s death. Fact-checkers debunked the ad's suggestion that the woman died after her husband's layoff from a Bain-owned factory or the allegation she lacked health insurance because of the move. 

The Obama campaign first said it wasn't familiar with the ad, but was forced to backpedal when fact-checkers found the ad's main speaker, Joe Soptic, in other pro-Obama ads. The administration has refused to disavow the ad, claiming no affiliation with the super PAC -- even though administration officials have fundraised for it and former White House staffers run its operations.

Burton has argued that criticism of the ad is overblown and that it fairly reflects the long-term consequences of bankruptcies and corporate buyouts by Romney’s Bain Capital -- despite the fact that the spot's allegations have been debunked.

With the outcry and debate, there has been much speculation about whether the ad would air at all. Priorities USA officials have been coy about the delay in the ad’s hitting the airwaves, insisting only that it has been, “shipped to television stations” and would air on demand.

The free attention garnered by the controversy alone seemed to be a desired effect of Priorities. The spot has had over 700,000 views online, and as of Friday, four of the top five states in which it's been viewed online include Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Priorities official said.

BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller first reported Tuesday night that the ad officially aired in Cleveland that morning, citing an, "ad buy tracking source."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Rep. Allen West: That’s Racist! NAACP: No, It’s Not

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- No stranger to controversy, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., wants to know where “the outrage” is after a Super PAC supporting his opponent in their congressional race put out a cartoonish ad Thursday that showed West punching two women.

West, who is black (the women in the video are white), appeared on Fox News earlier to ask why “Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton [and] the NAACP” had not stepped up to defend him.  Had it been a Democrat targeted in the ad, he said, there would have been “national outrage.”

As for the civil rights leaders, “They’re not going to say anything because they’re nothing but an effective wing of the Democrat[ic] Party,” West told Fox and Friends. “They have effectively kept them well placed so that they can continue to have a black electorate voting bloc.”

Hours later, the NAACP’s Hilary O. Shelton responded, telling The Huffington Post that the organization disagreed with the congressman’s assessment.

“It looks like a traditional, political, partisan commercial,” Shelton said. “The ad has him looking very well groomed, a serious look on his face and he’s wearing a suit. The only thing superimposed is a boxing glove as a symbolic analysis of his policies being inconsistent with the values of retirees, women and African-American families.

“I don’t see the symbolism in any way ingrained in stereotypes, whether it’s race or gender or ethnicity.”

The ad was paid for by the American Sunrise PAC, which is run, in part, by the father of West’s challenger, Patrick Murphy. In a statement Friday, Murphy’s campaign manager, Anthony Kusich, defended the content of the video but denied having any role in its production.

“It is telling that West does not dispute the votes cited in the ad,” Kusich wrote, “including his vote to dismantle Medicare, open up the prescription drug donut hole, and against women’s health care and insurance coverage. He even voted against the Violence Against Women Act.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug092012

Fatal Mistake? Obama Campaign Backtracks: Admits Knowing Story Behind Criticized Anti-Romney 'Cancer' Ad

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One day after claiming the Obama campaign had no knowledge of the story of the man included in a pro-Obama super PAC ad, spokeswoman Jen Psaki was forced to admit the campaign had worked with him before.

“No one is denying that he was in one of our campaign ads,” Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One, referring to Joe Soptic, who was shown in a Priorities USA Action ad essentially blaming Mitt Romney for his wife’s death.

“What’s clear here, again, is that we’re focusing so much on an ad that has not run yet, that was done by an outside group,” Psaki stressed.

In the ad, which Priorities USA Action still plans to air later this week, Soptic, a former GST Steel worker, explains how he lost his job and health benefits when Romney’s Bain Capital closed his plant. Soptic’s wife later became ill and died shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. "I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned," Soptic says in the ad.

What the ad doesn't say, because it completely undercuts its story, is that Romney had left Bain by the point at which Soptic was laid off, and also, Soptic's wife had her own health insurance through her own job.

Psaki deflected the criticism for the Soptic commercial -- which Democratic strategist and former President Clinton top aide Lanny Davis today called "disgusting" -- by bringing up a different ad, Romney’s campaign spot attacking the president's welfare reforms.

The Romney ad touts Preisdeint Obama got rid of many of the Clinton-era welfare changes, like a mandate welfare recipients must be working or actively trying to find work to get their benefits. Psaki claimed that a "bold-face lie."

“We know that there’s a debate that’s going on out there between ads on the airwaves,” she said. “But there’s been a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison here, when we’re comparing an ad that has not even run, by an outside group we have nothing to do with, with an ad that is the basis of Mitt Romney’s campaign right now, that is a bold-face lie about the president’s record on welfare.  And I think that’s frustrating to us because they’re being compared at the same level.”

Going a step further, Psaki said that no one was asking the Romney campaign to explain ads being run by the Republican super PAC.

“I saw an ad yesterday that is being run by a Republican outside group that questions whether the president was born in the United States and shows a picture of his birth certificate with a question mark on it.  No one is asking the Romney campaign about that ad and what they think about that ad. So as we talk about apples and oranges, that’s the apples-to-apples comparison I’ll leave you with,” she said.

In response, the Romney campaign said the president’s campaign had been caught lying.

“The Obama campaign acknowledged today that it ran a television ad and hosted a conference call that promoted the same despicable attack that was used in a discredited ad run by President Obama’s Super PAC,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said. “The Obama campaign has now admitted that it lied to the media and the American people in a disgraceful attempt to conceal their connection to this shameful smear. Americans deserve better -- they deserve a president who’s willing to run an honest campaign and be honest about his own record.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Super PAC Was Inspiration for Obama's ‘Romney Hood’ Line 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has his super PAC to thank for a colorful and succinct new attack on Mitt Romney as the reverse of Robin Hood.

At a fundraiser Monday night in Stamford, Conn., Obama debuted the slam on his Republican rival, encapsulating a week-long critique of his proposed tax plan.

“He’d ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year. It’s like Robin Hood in reverse,” Obama said. “It’s Romney Hood.”

The term, which drew the loudest applause and triggered a flood of buzz online, was coined not by Obama or his speechwriters, but by a team of Democratic strategists working for Priorities USA Action, which floated the concept last week.

While Priorities USA Action and the Obama campaign are forbidden by law from formally collaborating, they have been known to take subtle cues from each other on message and tactics -- something made a little easier when staff on both sides are former colleagues in the Obama administration.

Priorities USA senior strategist Bill Burton first surfaced the “Romney Hood” label for the presumptive GOP nominee in the subject line of an email blast to reporters on Aug. 1.

“The reverse Robin Hood economics in Mitt Romney’s plan have finally been revealed,” Burton wrote, citing a Washington Post report on the new Tax Policy Center analysis of the governor’s tax plan.

Burton Tuesday credited the creative collaboration of his staff, including strategist Paul Begala, with coming up with the bumper-sticker frame on Romney’s economic vision. He suggested it was a flattering coincidence that the president has adopted the line for his stump speech.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wouldn’t address the super PAC inspiration for the “Romney Hood” line, adding only that the phrase is “pretty much self-explanatory.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug032012

Bill Clinton Backs Obama Super PAC

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Former president Bill Clinton is throwing his support behind Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Obama, agreeing to headline a “briefing” for potential donors in New York City later this month.

The event marks Clinton’s first foray into fundraising for the group, Priorities USA senior strategist Bill Burton told ABC News. The 42nd president’s appearance is aimed at keeping Obama competitive in the money race with GOP outside groups, which have held a sizable advantage.

It’s also the latest sign of the high-profile, high-value role Clinton is playing in Obama’s re-election campaign.

Clinton, who famously clashed with Obama during the 2008 campaign, has appeared in Obama campaign TV ads; stood by the president’s side in appeals to deep pocket Democratic donors; and will deliver the keynote nominating address on the third night of the Democratic National Convention next month.

Clinton’s involvement with Priorities was first reported by The New York Times.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Olympic Committee Tells Democratic Super-PAC to Pull Ad

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A Democratic Super-PAC that launched an attack ad against Mitt Romney using footage from the 2002 Olympics has been told to take the web ad down and to not air a TV version.

The ad featured at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, using athletes from countries where the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has held foreign investments, including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland, as well as countries where the ad accused him of “outsourcing” jobs.

Romney’s tenure running the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games after they were scandalized with allegations of corruption – saving the Olympics, in the parlance of his hagiographers – is one of his calling cards, one that Democrats are seeking to undermine in various ways. But the U.S. Olympic Committee put a stop to this attempt.

“The Olympic Games are a celebration of friendship, excellence and respect,” said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky. “While we are absolutely confident that neither presidential candidate nor campaign has participated in the production or distribution of these negative ads , the attacks, using Olympic themes and images, need to stop. Tomorrow we will celebrate America’s finest athletes’ accomplishments and watch Team USA march in the parade of nations. For anything even remotely negative to be associated with that time-honored, inspirational moment would be extremely unfortunate.”

Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee said the IOC stands by its US counterpart. “The IOC does not allow footage of the Olympic Games or an association with the Olympic rings to be used for political purposes, in line with the Olympic Charter,” he said in a statement. This has always been the case, he told ABC News. “It’s based on the charter our fundamental document you simply can’t use the rings for political purposes.” The Super-PAC, Priorities USA Action, is run by two former staffers in the Obama White House, including former deputy press secretary Bill Burton. The ad, “Romney Goes for Gold,” was a web ad that posted Wednesday morning. Burton told ABC News that he was contacted by an official from the U.S. Olympic Committee Wednesday afternoon. The web ad was taken down from the group’s website this morning. A planned TV version of the ad will not air.

“Once we were assured that Mitt Romney and his allies would be held to the same standard, we were glad to take the ad down from our website,” Burton said in a statement. “Go Team USA!”

Officials from the Romney campaign said this action would have no impact on their ads. “We’ve been aware of the rules on the use of Olympics footage going back to Mitt’s 2002 campaign for governor,” said Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom.

The ad also highlighted reports that the Olympic Committee outsourced the production of some uniforms to Burma, and that during Romney’s tenure as CEO of Bain Capital some of the companies in which Bain invested outsourced jobs to China and India. The Romney campaign has disputed that Romney had anything to do with decisions to outsource U.S. jobs while at Bain Capital.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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