April 30th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama campaign files FEC complaint against pro-Clinton group

A new Indiana ad hits Obama on economic issues.
A new Indiana ad hits Obama on economic issues.

(CNN) – Barack Obama’s campaign has filed a formal complaint over a pro-Hillary Clinton group running ads attacking the Illinois senator on jobs and the economy in the critical primary state of Indiana.

The American Leadership Project, which includes veterans of the Clinton administration and longtime supporters, is a “527,” which means it is not bound by federal campaign finance laws as long as it does not directly advocate on behalf of a particular candidate.

The group announced earlier this week that it was planning to buy $700,000 worth of airtime in the state leading up to Tuesday’s vote. It has aired other spots in support of Clinton in key primary states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

The Obama campaign planned a conference call this morning with general counsel Bob Bauer to discuss the specifics of the complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Elections Commission.

(updated with ALP response after the jump)

Several weeks ago, the Obama campaign used the group in its own fundraising appeals, sending supporters a plea for donations that pointed to actions by “Swift Boat-style groups and smear campaigns.”

“News broke yesterday that a few wealthy Clinton supporters are gearing up for a massive spending campaign to boost her chances in the big upcoming contests in Texas and Ohio on March 4th,” wrote David Plouffe in an e-mail message.

“The so-called ‘American Leadership Project’ will take unlimited contributions from individuals and is organized the same way as the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” he added.

The move marks at least the third time this week that representatives of a presidential candidate or national party campaign committee have filed - or threatened to file - FEC complaints over attack ads.

UPDATE: ALP released a response from their lawyers Wednesday afternoon. They said that the group did not fall under the legal definition of a "political committee" as defined by federal election laws because its stated goal was not to elect or defeat a specific candidate, but "to raise public awareness of vital public policy issues affecting America's middle class."

soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Jack Walden

    Hillary and not McCain is sounding more like four more years of Bush. Heck, with likes of her who needs a Republican band of dirty tricks for Democrats to lose in November.

    April 30, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Hicks, Fort Myers

    This is really funny.
    Isn't congress still in "delay mode" getting election commission appointments finished?

    He may get a response from the next year. By then it will be too late

    April 30, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Sharon

    nice try....putting up HER ad with a story about a possible 527 ad????
    people who have the problems with 527's only complain when they are used against them….there are laws that regulate them…get a grip…..CNN….why not moderate OUT posts that are based on nothing but lies?????
    Can the people with the peter paul and former clinton pastor sories get a grip and do some research please??????? The VILLAGE where the story about the pastor lives is called CLINTON, NY in Oneida County….peter paul has been thrown out 2 times already….he's a nut-job…..

    PLEASE LOOK UP YOUR POSTS! You all sound so desperate for anything to make yourselves feel better about your own candidate! :) At least make your posts based on fact, not what you chose to believe…..really pitiful.
    "Paul's claims have not found traction. An audit by the Federal Elections Commission found that neither Senator Clinton nor her Senate campaign had accepted any illegal funds in connection with the Hollywood fundraiser[40], though the campaign was asked to pay $35,000 in fines for having underreported the cost of the party.[41] Paul's suit against the FEC was thrown out; his attempt to bring ethics charges against Clinton were rejected,[42] and his fraud charges against Senator Clinton were tossed out in April 2006.[43] Paul continued to press civil charges against Senator Clinton and former President Clinton for "looting"[44] his business, but the courts refused to allow him to sue Senator Clinton, with the appellate court specifying that her behavior had been "perfectly legal," and allowing her to recoup her legal fees from Paul.[40]

    Finding no luck in the courts, in 2007 Paul sponsored and promoted a thirteen and a half minute video titled "Hillary Exposed: The Case of Paul v. Clinton," attacking Senator Clinton. Her office responded "Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee."[45] In January 2008, he also re-filed his complaint with the FEC"

    April 30, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Meredith

    Go Obama!!! Hillary has cried twice during this campaign and complained about everything from "going first" to "being a woman." Who can forget her famous spectacle, "Shame on you Barack Obama." The woman complains like no other: when her opponent doesn't stoop to her level, she calls him weak, and when he defends himself, she and her supporters call him a crybaby. Puleez!! Give me a break.

    Obama/Casey 08 (Because America needs a president who WON'T "distort" reality and history for personal gain.

    April 30, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Obatala for obama

    yes add yet another civil suit, she and bill are being sued in CA

    she is evil, i tellyou evil and a liar
    she and karl rove

    belong together tyrants...........

    April 30, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. D R

    He doesn't want to debate because it gives her free airtime. Her campaign is broke. If she cannot manage a campaign any better than this, then how is she going to do with the office of President! Obama doesn't want to hit her below the belt so I will. Look these up! If you don't get familiar with them now, the republicans will remind you later!

    Peter Paul, Filegate, Travelgate, Frank Giustra, Rev. William Procanick , Chinagate, Johnny Chung, Vince Foster, Whitewater. The list is much longer than will fit on this page! The Clinton' s are a very corrupt family, and all of you should do some research before you jump her way. Remember we impeached this family for lying!

    FIRST FIRST LADY to come under criminal investigation

    FIRST FIRST LADY to almost be indicted acccording to one of the special prosecutors

    NUMBER of Hillary Clinton fundraisers convicted of, or pleading no contest to, crime: 5

    NUMBER OF TIMES that Hillary Clinton, providing testimony to Congress, said that she didn't remember, didn't know, or something similar: 250

    April 30, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. Jamaal

    Get her Obama she is the evilist women on the planet show everyone what kind of hateful person she is

    April 30, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Oh Brother

    There has to be a little more to this story,the writer leaves one with the impression that Obama used this group to smear Hillary and then turns around and files a suit against her for the same thing.Im no genius but why would he do that?I suspect our writer is a bit biased and wishes to not fill in all the blanks,more shoddy cnn "Journalism"

    Cmon CNN with all your money cant you hire some writers that can write?Someone that can just tell the story and not add spin?Answer these questions and I will be satisfied
    1. What did Obama actually use this group for?
    2.What did Hillary actually use this group for?
    3.What is the nature of the ad that Obamas people are filing this lawsuit on?
    4.What is the actual complaint in the lawsuit?

    there are more questions one could ask...but you need to at least address these 4,instead of just showing that you are a shill for the Clinton Campaign.

    April 30, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Henri

    Well we know Hillary would never stand for this dirt. She is an all-American girl next door, right? WRONG! Hillary is slime of the earth. Anyone who would
    allow their husband to humiliate her before the world as not to lose his support for her goal when she left the White House to run for Prez. By the way is she responsible for the perjury of Bill Clinton as in I did not have sex with that woman. Maybe she should kick Bill under the bus as Obama did Rev. Wright. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

    April 30, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Tre

    None of this matters. Supers are starting to line up. It's over for Hillary. This nomination fight will be over by next weekend. I hope the supporters of Hillary, care more about fixing this country than they do about taking Hillary's loss out on the Democratic Party. The country CANNOT afford to put McCain into the White House! He is poised to attack Iran. That will place our military on three battlefronts – World War III.

    April 30, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. B in Baltimore

    To 28 Year Old White Man in Florida – I said it yesterday – The sex abusing pastor is from Clinton, NY. He is not Hillary Clinton's pastor. Get over it.

    OBAMA '08

    April 30, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. kat

    The group isn't any different than MoveOn.org in my opinion. You're a wuss Obama. Not everyone likes you, get over it.

    April 30, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Mike

    To Glenn,

    ...still not enough, can you say SUPERDELEGATES!!!!!

    Wright controversy!!!!!!!???????

    Get a grip Glenn.

    Go Hillary!!!!

    April 30, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Al, Sacramento Ca

    Did anybody forget about the mail in ads. he through around in Nevada.

    This whole throw the rock, hid the hand thing is not working anymore.

    Hillary 08!

    April 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. Dylan

    I can't believe the childishness of the Hillary supporters that post on this site. They can't seem to have an adult conversation and are about as nasty as their Queen.

    April 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Sharon

    Hello there! Nice try putting up HER ad with a story about a potential 527 ad.....people who have the problems with 527's only complain when they are used against them….there are laws that regulate them…get a grip…..CNN….why not moderate OUT posts that are based on nothing but lies?????
    Can the people with the peter paul and former clinton pastor sories get a grip and do some research please??????? The VILLAGE where the story about the pastor lives is called CLINTON, NY in Oneida County….peter paul has been thrown out 2 times already….he's a nut-job…..

    PLEASE LOOK UP YOUR POSTS! You all sound so desperate for anything to make yourselves feel better about your own candidate! :) At least make your posts based on fact, not what you chose to believe…..really pitiful.
    "Paul's claims have not found traction. An audit by the Federal Elections Commission found that neither Senator Clinton nor her Senate campaign had accepted any illegal funds in connection with the Hollywood fundraiser[40], though the campaign was asked to pay $35,000 in fines for having underreported the cost of the party.[41] Paul's suit against the FEC was thrown out; his attempt to bring ethics charges against Clinton were rejected,[42] and his fraud charges against Senator Clinton were tossed out in April 2006.[43] Paul continued to press civil charges against Senator Clinton and former President Clinton for "looting"[44] his business, but the courts refused to allow him to sue Senator Clinton, with the appellate court specifying that her behavior had been "perfectly legal," and allowing her to recoup her legal fees from Paul.[40]

    Finding no luck in the courts, in 2007 Paul sponsored and promoted a thirteen and a half minute video titled "Hillary Exposed: The Case of Paul v. Clinton," attacking Senator Clinton. Her office responded "Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee."[45] In January 2008, he also re-filed his complaint with the FEC"

    April 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Maggie

    Sadam and Rodam do not rhyme. In RODHAM the stressed Syllable is in the beginning and "SADAM" is on the end, unless you are GHWB.

    We forgive you, perhaps you were using the wrong side of your brain or a product of "No child left behind", either way they are both "Different not deficient"

    April 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. b-liberal

    Obama INVENTED the back door attack. What a whiner Obama is! He didn't have a problem with MoveOn or other mouthpieces for him. But now that Hillary supporters are doing the same thing as his supporters, he acts like it is something new. What a hypocrite.

    And remember this is not a Hillary endorsed ad – if Rev.Wright is not Obama – this ad is not Hillary. Hypocrite at every turn!

    Vote for Hillary – we know where she stands!

    April 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. BL-NYC

    Seriously...
    Senator Obama is far to weak to be the leader of our Nation...
    This is flat out stupid.
    This is not fighting back, this is crying to mama...

    April 30, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. BettyB

    Hillary is scared, and she's pulling all the stops to get her face out there. Her monied friends are trying to help her in the only way they can. She needs a debate because she can't afford to buy that much publicity... She needs friends' deep pockets to get her into the news.

    Obama is revealing the fact she doesn't have the kind of support he does, not with the majority of us willing to fund a campaign. The scheming, underhanded maneuvers of Hill's supporters only reinforce the fact that she operates in a way the country needs to stop. We need Obama more than ever.

    April 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. HELP

    Can’t vote for him, he is AA. Can’t vote for her, she’s female. Can’t vote for him, he’s too old. He doesn’t wear a flag, she lies, and he can’t remember what he said yesterday. His old pastor is weird, hers is a child molester(?) and the old ones pastor is weird too. He wants to unite, she wants to fight and he wants more war. Now I see why Bush is in the White House and we look like global idiots. Turn off the MSM. Talk to people in your life who you respect for their wisdom, do your research and vote.

    God Bless

    April 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Obama

    why dont you post ALL the news about something CNN??

    Subodh Chandra, a lawyer in Ohio and Obama supporter filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, calling on the them to open an investigation, shut down the organization and seek criminal penalties against its directors and donors.[7] He said the new organization allows Mrs. Clinton's backers to "cheat the system" by paying for their own ads for Mrs. Clinton even through they have already donated the maximum $2,300 allowed by law to her campaign.[7] It took three years for the FEC to settle similar complaints lodged against independent political entities operating in the 2004 election.[7]

    Democratic presidential candidate Senator Mike Gravel filed his own lawsuit against the ALP in Ohio federal court, requesting that the organization be barred from airing a television ad in Ohio before the Ohio primary.[8]

    As a 527, ALP is not required to disclose their donors, and they have chosen not to

    April 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Debby

    Well it worked for Bush when it came to Kerry why not Clinton. I think its tacky for the Obama campaign to file this suit. Its really taking away from his message as the so called Uniter. It shows that his campaign is making him look immature and whiny. Obama wants change, but yet he won't do another one on one debate about issues with Clinton, and we have to hear speech after speech of him denouncing Wright.

    April 30, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Jay

    PAUL vs. CLINTON. Why is the media mute over this case?

    April 30, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. STORY

    THIS GUY IS THE WORST¡¡
    HE HAS HIJACKED THE MEDIA AND THE SUPERDELEGATES WITH PRESSURE

    April 30, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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