February 7th, 2012
09:49 AM ET
2 years ago

Update: Fundraisers encouraged to raise for PACs Obama once denounced

Washington (CNN) – According to several participants on a conference call with major bundlers late Monday night, Barack Obama’s re-election campaign encouraged donors to fundraise for a Democratic super PAC supporting the president, marking an about-face on Obama’s position toward outside spending groups.

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 the group, Priorities USA Action.

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But in the wake of the group's anemic fundraising, made public last week, the campaign changed its position. Earlier Monday, it announced to members of its national finance committee that it will use administration and campaign officials as surrogates at PAC events.

On the call, a campaign official made clear that after donors contribute the maximum amount allowed to the Obama campaign, fundraisers should encourage donors to give to Priorities USA, according to a source who was on the call.

"Bundlers" are fundraisers who solicit campaign contributions from their personal and business networks. The total raised is considered bundled through the individual.

Campaign officials gave guidance on practices and policies, stressing the importance that super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating with campaigns.

Another bundler questioned the effectiveness of the new approach, explaining every large donor of means had already been approached for a donation by Priorities USA. This fundraiser said the campaign formally pulled back the curtain last night but most high-profile contributors had already been pressed in person to donate to the super PAC.

The source also said Priorities USA held its own cocktail party for heavy hitters at a national finance committee meeting six months ago.

"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."

Additional concern about Republican spending versus Democratic super PAC spending was expressed on the campaign call Monday night, underlining the group's need to turn up the pressure and meet its fundraising goals, a source said.

Through the third party groups, Democrats and Republicans can run negative ads without the candidates they support signing off at the end of the commercials, as they’re required to do in ads paid for by the campaigns.

Super PACs can put distance between the president and attacks on his Republican opponent. On Monday, senior administration officials reaffirmed that they believe the race will be close.

Parallels to the president’s change of heart on campaign finance were also seen in the last election cycle. In the 2008 race, he initially embraced public financing but became the first candidate to reject it. Obama then went on to make history raising $750 million for his campaign.

Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for super PACs, Obama has been an outspoken critic of the effect they have on politics.

In October of that year, shortly before the mid-term elections, the president lambasted the role of outside spending groups, particularly those that are not required to disclose its donors.

"This isn't just a threat to Democrats," he said. "This is a threat to our democracy."

Some Republicans, meanwhile, have already hit back with charges of hypocrisy on the president's turnaround on the issue.

"Just another broken promise," House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday when asked about the change.

The conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which plan to raise $300 million to help defeat Obama and his agenda in November, also responded.

In an e-mail blast, Jonathan Collegio, the groups' spokesman, called the Obama campaign's move a "brazenly cynical" reversal.

Also see:

Obama campaign to support super PAC fundraising

Romney says Obama infringing upon religious rights

Biden's 2012 message: 'Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive'

Rocky Mountain High expectations


Filed under: 2012 • Fundraising • President Obama • Priorities USA
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. GrouchyKat

    Flip-flopper-in-chief anyone? He only thinks they're bad if they're not on his side. Can't WAIT until this flip-flopper is out of office.

    February 7, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. RB

    Typical Obama hypocrisy.

    February 7, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Kyle

    Shocking... Wait.

    February 7, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Granger

    This fraud will do anything, say anything...or corrupt anything to get re-elected. He needs to go. He's been the single worst decision this country has ever made.

    February 7, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. RonPaul2012

    Of course he has changed his mind, he is a politician after all, a lawyer and a liar !

    February 7, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Dontyouworryaboutit

    Dont panic Obama is in charge......roflmmfao

    February 7, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. frespech

    The 11th commandment- If you spend the most money, more often than not you win.

    February 7, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. I just puked in my mouth

    Democrats are no different then Republicans... its tooth and nail when it comes to a fight, the voter losses again. VOTE EM ALL OUT!

    February 7, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Matt

    Money wins. No surprises here.

    February 7, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Dave R. Smith

    OH NO. A Flip Flopper. It must benifit him, not the country.

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Joe

    This sucks, but if you don't play the game to the limit of the rules, you lose.

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Mike

    You have to fight fire with fire.. Good for Obama!!!

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Saboth

    Umm...why can't you be against something, but still utilize it? If you went to a gun battle with a knife, you are dead. If his opponents are using guns (Super PACs), he must too. He's totally right....we need to revamp campaign contributions and also lobbying. But when your opponent is a Wall Street insider with major corporations behind him...you need to fight fire with fire.

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. I just puked in my mouth

    the next 4years will have the same president with a "new sponsor" I wonder what fresh hell that'll be?

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. bigdoglv

    It is sad that the highest office in the land seems to go to the highest bidder. We fight for our parties on this site while they laugh as if we were just their faithful servants. It is time to wake up!

    February 7, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. James act2

    Hey, if it's good for the GOP, why not? Oh wait, Is Boehner gonna start crying over this?

    February 7, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. michiganmoon

    I remember 2000, when Bush was blasted for raising $106,000,000. Now we have Obama who says that he will break his own record by raising $1,000,000,000 for 2012. It doesn't surprise me.

    February 7, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. MOReviews

    Superpacs..if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    February 7, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Mitt

    Obama is getting scared!!! He will do what ever he has to, include flip flopping on a position to stay in the White House. I love it.

    February 7, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. george of the jungle

    And why not.? Makes sense to me. If we are up against mitt whos pacs have raised all this money and keep producing these negative adds. Why not? Most of our money comes from individules who contribute less than 200.00 each how can we compete with mitts rich 200 who donate over a million each? They don't like when we fight back. We have more people power than they do. Even his own party doesn't really want him. Let the repos say what they want. Obama Biden 2012

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. alan herst

    Another about face for our president Obama. So where are the changes I voted for? how can this man (and his campaign) be this hypocritical? When I read stories like this one, it reaffirms my decision to not vote for this man again.

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. cjg

    No other way to compete other than use the same tactics.Even some in the GOP have been critical of these pacs but since they are legal , even a bad idea can be used . If it is good enuff for Colbert , it is good enuff for Obama!
    Obama 2012

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. collhic

    And here I thought Gingrich was the biggest hypocrite...

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Turban

    what hypocracy

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I'll be contributing in any way I can to the Obama campaign. The Republicans repulse me.

    February 7, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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