February 7th, 2012
12:29 AM ET
3 years ago

Obama campaign to support super PAC fundraising

(CNN) - In a change of position, Barack Obama's reelection campaign will begin using administration and campaign aides to fundraise for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing the president.

Obama has been an outspoken critic of current campaign financing laws, in particular a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the creation of super PACs. Until now he has kept his distance from Priorities USA Action.

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But in the wake of the group's anemic fundraising, made public last week, the campaign decided to change its position, and announced the new stance to members of its national finance committee Monday evening.

Two Obama campaign aides confirmed that senior campaign and administration officials who participate at fundraising events for the president's campaign will also appear at events for Priorities USA Action, the PAC supporting Obama.

"This decision was not made overnight,” one campaign official said. “ The money raised and spent by Republican super PACs is very telling. We will not unilaterally disarm."

The president, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will not appear at super PAC events, the aides said.

In an e-mail to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said the decision was a reaction to massive fundraising posted by super PACs supporting GOP presidential candidates.

"The campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PACs," Messina wrote.

"We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission."

Messina was careful to point out the president's opposition to a Supreme Court ruling that sparked the onset of super PACs, noting the administration was still looking for ways to put limits on campaign spending.

"The President opposed the Citizens United decision," Messina wrote. "He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view.

“He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action - by constitutional amendment, if necessary - to place reasonable limits on all such spending.”

Priorities USA Action posted receipts of $4.4 million through December 31, 2011, compared to the more than $30 million reported by Restore our Future, a super PAC supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

In an e-mail blast, Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for the conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, called the Obama campaign's move a "brazenly cynical" reversal for a president who just two years ago called spending by these outside groups a threat to democracy.

Collegio highlighted a quote from an October 2010 rally in Philadelphia, when the New York Times quoted Obama as saying, "You don’t know, it could be the oil industry, it could be the insurance industry, it could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose. Now that’s not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy."

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS plan to raise $300 million to help defeat Obama and his agenda in November.

Mitt Romney's super PAC reported raising $30 million in 2011, the vast majority of which was spent on negative advertising.

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Obama: Israel undecided on attack against Iran

Gingrich outlines a Southern revival strategy

Ohio newspaper endorses Romney


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Priorities USA
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. v

    Can't really blame him.You need to have the funding to compete, even if you mean to later remove that source of funding from BOTH sides on down the line.

    February 7, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  2. stevie

    Flip flop flip flop flip flop!

    February 7, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. AnnaMaria44

    Surprise, surprise. Oddly enough, this decision was announced following the report of $30 M raised for Romney's campaign, compared to $4.4 M for Obama.

    February 7, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Yoda

    To the Dark Side, he has gone.

    February 7, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Freedomics

    Might as well bring a gun to a gun fight.

    February 7, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. brian in dc

    Just like he lied and opted out of public election funding in 2008. Does the picture have to be painted any clearer?

    February 7, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. the trooth

    someone just got a new pair of flip flops. How telling it is to sell oneself for re-election.

    February 7, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. ThePROFESS10NAL

    Gotta fight fire with fire I guess. We need to make campaign funds a mandatory contribution from tax returns and candidates can only use that money. If they use any money outside of that, they go to jail. No questions asked.

    February 7, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Goose66

    Typical political spin. "Ooohhh, it's baddddd!" until they want the money and then "Well, the other guys are doing it, so we can too." What happened to "change?"

    February 7, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. Jeremy

    Big surprise. He will do and say anything to hold onto power. No principles at all.

    February 7, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. thedude

    Please note that Obama is said to "change positions," while Romney "flip-flops."

    February 7, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
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