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. anagram_kid

    I still think a better solution is to eliminate all political advertising. Sadly, like product advertising they are usually totally illogical and manipulative. Glad I have a DVR and can skip all the commercials.

    February 7, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. insight iowa

    All is fair in love and war!! Republican voting straight Dem ticket 2012.

    February 7, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. s

    Republicans want to play dirty, they will get dirty right back in their grill. Eat dirt pie right wingers.

    February 7, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. anthony Stark

    I was against light sabers. Then the supreme court said light sabers were acceptable. Now my opponents are preparing to come at me with light sabers. I have a butter knife. Time to get a light saber.

    February 7, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. S.positive

    Fair is fair

    February 7, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. dave

    Super PACs corrupt our system and make it so the candidate with the most money has the best chance of winning the election, so of course he should be against it. President Obama probably realized, however, that as much as he hates the system created by our Supreme Court, he needs to get into the Super PAC game if he expects to have any edge in the election. You gotta fight fire with fire. Many people will see this as hypocritical, so it might come back to haunt him; I personally think he did this begrudgingly and out of sheer necessity. I really do hope they make constitutional amendments taking the money out of elections and taking the person-hood of a company away; that is the only way to circumvent the potential abuses of power that our corrupt Supreme Court has allowed to take place.

    February 7, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Leo

    A conservative Supreme Court created this mess and Democrats cannot disarm unilaterally. The rules are what they are and we have to play by them. Ultimately we need a constitutional ammendment that does not equate money with free speech, that refutes that corporations are "people", and removes money from polities. In any other profession, money changing hands like this is corrupting. We need to get the money out of politics and until we do, the corruption and undue corporate control of our government and nation will continue.

    February 7, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. David M.

    Did anyone really not see this coming? Super PACs are pervasive and powerful (not good, but powerful). WIth the kind of money associated with them, there was no way Obama was going to allow them to become a solely Republican tool. Is the move hypocritical? Most would say yes. Is it surprising when a politician of any stripe comprises on a moral stance to bolster their odds at getting reelected? Not at all.

    February 7, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Nick

    Go figure...

    February 7, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Stop spending

    Flip flopper - now Mitt has a good one on YOU.

    February 7, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. TruthBeTold

    I think it's great that Pres Obama has done this. Why shouldn't he? The Koch brothers and other multi-billionaires want to buy the elections, as they did in so many states in 2010 midterm elections. They have bought a majority of the Supreme Court. Don't expect Democrats to give up our nation to corporate interests.

    February 7, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. yijie

    same same all same

    February 7, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. MalibuChick

    Do as I say, not as I do.

    February 7, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. worktolive

    Would't give a penny to reelect this flip-flopper. He has put this country so much in debt it's pathetic and now he's cutting our military just when things are hot with Iran. He has no idea! I still don't believe he was born in this country-in fact, I don't believe much of what he says. Have no trust of this man.

    February 7, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Collin

    As if no President or no person in recorded history has ever changed their mind...sheesh.

    February 7, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Chance

    Looks like the "Mainstream" Media is covering a story that puts Obama in a bad light. I wonder will conspiracy theroists and Newt Gingrich will do now. It's time to stop blaming the media and journalists for doing their job. The reason why CNN and other networks dont cover every single democratic scandal or problem is because right there are none. If CNN only covered stories that put Republicans in a good light, then the orginial problem would remain unsolved. Actually being fair and balanced means covering both sides of a point of a view. The Mainstream media does that, and if you believe that than there is no hope for you.

    February 7, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. ThatsIt21

    In honor of Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby...."I am flip-flopping!"

    February 7, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Chance

    Correction:
    And if you dont believe that, then there is no hope for you.

    I wonder what will conspiracy therists and Newt Gingrich do now.

    February 7, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Hark

    Ther is very little "honor" amongst politicians....on both sides. Say one thing and then justify doing just the opposite. Whatever happened to "my word is my guarantee." ...and we should look up to these snake-oil salesmen??? Please, go away!

    February 7, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Chicago politics at its best. This guy is a snake oil salesman.

    February 7, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  21. DonAndres

    Mr President, we need all we can get to defeat the republicans, it's ok to change your mind on needed issues.

    February 7, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. Lovetheusaorleave

    OK all you Obama lovers where is the hate on this flip flop

    February 7, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. john

    He has no core – He will do and say anything to fool the independants once again. Fool the once, fool them again should be his slogan. He "deserves" nothing from the American people except to go back to works for Acorn and their many hidden fronts

    February 7, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. Cancit

    Unfortunately you have to fight fire with fire.

    February 7, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. ProperVillain

    A politician flip flopping on an issue when it becomes personally inconvenient...what a surprise....

    February 7, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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