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Five Democratic ‘super’ PACs may seek joint operation


This news story was published on February 9, 2012.
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By Peter Stone, Center for Public Integrity –

WASHINGTON — Five Democratic “super” political action committees are reaching out to party mega-donors seeking $1 million to $10 million contributions, now that President Barack Obama has blessed the outside spending group working to get him re-elected.

Discussions among the five super PACs are under way about setting up a joint fundraising committee, said Bill Burton, a former deputy White House press secretary and co-founder of Priorities USA Action, which was launched last spring to help Obama win a second term.

“We’re in serious talks,” Burton told iWatch News of the Center for Public Integrity, but he added that a final decision hasn’t been made about establishing a joint fundraising mechanism. Either way, “there are a lot of people in the progressive donor community who have not yet gotten involved who are likely to be involved.”

Other top Democratic fundraisers say that a joint fundraising entity is likely and stress that the White House’s abrupt shift on super PACs — which came Monday in a conference call to leading donors and fundraisers with campaign manager Jim Messina — could help prod large donors to write seven-figure checks.

Democratic fundraisers are hoping that several major donors such as Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and Chicago media executive Fred Eychaner, both of whom already have written large checks to Priorities USA Action, will pony up considerably more to a joint committee.

Katzenberg has donated $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC that Burton and ex-White House aide Sean Sweeney created, and Eychaner, an old friend of Obama’s, has chipped in $500,000.

“There are donors who have expressed interest in a unified effort,” said Harold Ickes, president of Priorities USA Action, who is also a veteran Democratic fundraiser and a lobbyist with strong union ties. “A unified effort makes an enormous amount of sense and is likely to result in more money being raised.”

Democratic super PACs, which were created early last year and have struggled to catch up to better-funded Republican groups such as American Crossroads, are aimed at helping Obama win re-election, preserve the Democratic majority in the Senate and win back the House of Representatives.

Besides Priorities USA Action, the other Democratic groups involved in the joint committee talks include Majority PAC, which is focused on the Senate, and House Majority PAC, which is House-focused. The other two super PACs are American Bridge 21st Century, an opposition research entity that helps the other PACs, and America Votes, a get-out-the-vote operation for Democrats.

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