Four years after he denounced the influence of big money in campaigns and two years after condemning a Supreme Court decision permitting the creation of "super PACs," President Obama has reversed course and given the go-ahead to his supporters to assist the leading super PAC supporting his re-election. The decision was announced late Monday night by campaign manager Jim Messina, who warned of dire consequences if the president does not counter the financial muscle of a proliferation of Republican PACs dedicated to his defeat.
"The stakes are too important to play by two different sets of rules," Messina wrote in a letter to supporters. "If we fail to act, we concede this election to a small group of powerful people intent on removing the president at any cost." He said the support that will now be given to Priorities USA "can help neutralize the avalanche of special-interest spending to defeat President Obama."
Priorities USA is headed by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney. But it has seen its fundraising fall far behind that of Republican and business-oriented super PACs. Now, help is on the way. Pointedly, Messina that the president, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama "will not be a part of this effort." Instead, he said, "their political activity will remain focused on the president's campaign."
But others will not be constrained. "Senior campaign officials as well as some
White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at Priorities USA fundraising events," he wrote, adding that Obama campaign officials may appear at Priorities USA events, "these folks will not be soliciting contributions" for the group.
Messina recalled the president's strong condemnation of the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court that threw out decades of federal campaign contribution limits. And he said Obama continues to support a law forcing full disclosure of all contributions. "But," he added, "this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands." Citing the success of Republican groups, he predicted that opponents of Obama will spend $500 million dollars in the campaign. "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."