Dems Make It Official: They'll Take Undisclosed Donations, Too
Prominent Democratic strategists, including two former top aides to President Obama, are formally launching independent committees aimed at countering the onslaught of outside Republican organizations expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2012 presidential campaign.
Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, the two companion committees, hope to raise $100 million to defend Obama, organizers said, an amount that will allow them to run ads competing with American Crossroads, the American Action Network, and other Republican-backing outside organizations.
The organization will not live up to the same campaign finance standards by which Obama has pledged to run its campaign. They will take unregulated donations that do not require disclosure; Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats have railed against Crossroads and other Republican groups that do the same thing. The organizers said the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, opening the door to unlimited corporate contributions, left them no choice.
The effort is being led by the president's former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, and Sean Sweeney, who was a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Paul Begala and Geoff Garin, two long-time advisers to Bill Clinton, will serve on the group's leadership team.
The formation of the new committees suggests that Democrats recognize they are behind the eight ball in an important area of campaign finance law.
Democrats appear eager not just to match the conservative outside-group infrastructure but to exceed it. Another part of the plan: American Bridge 21st Century, which is modeled after the watchdog group Media Matters, will serve as a sort of "war room" of opposition research, feeding its three sister organizations material that they can use in independent expenditures, while pressing traditional media outlets for coverage.
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-- Alex Roarty contributed to this post