February 7th, 2012
12:29 AM ET
11 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.

Also see:

Nevada runners up, Paul and Santorum vow to continue campaigns

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. Peter E

    And the surprise is???
    In 2008 Obama turned his back on public funds because he realised he could raise far more without the restrictions.
    In 2004 Bush Jr. himself also passed on fund limits, and also enlisted a bunch of buddies to fund the 'independent' Swift Boat creeps. The same Bush that in 2000 criticized his republican rival, McCain's funding and backhanded campaigning tricks.

    February 7, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  2. Zach

    If you can't beat them, join them. Ahh, the beauty of democracy in America, worthy of emulation.

    February 7, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  3. izy

    OBAMA 2012!!!!!!! GOT THIS LATINO'S VOTE!!!!

    February 7, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  4. Dick Cheney is the smegma of mankind!

    Well since the activist Supreme Court justices have made corporations "people" by legislating from the bench, so just consider that President Obama is now running like the GOP's "grassroots"

    February 7, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  5. Blindersoff

    It's "Half Time America" and Obama need every player in the game for the great "Come Back" Go Get em Kid!

    February 7, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  6. DixonIV

    Do what you need to do Mr President...we don't need any of the traveling right wingnuts of America as our President.

    February 7, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  7. DENNA

    Now you are being smart, Mr. President. If the GOP robber barons can fund raise using Super PACs, you should too. Now watch the GOP supporters starts howling like stuck pigs about this. Well folks, if it is good enough for you, it is good enough for us. Find another subject to whine about.

    February 7, 2012 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  8. Marry

    American Democracy should not be for sale! But that is exactly what this outrageous “PAC” decision from the USSC does. It puts Democracy up for sale to the highest bidder.
    Here too, the President asks the right questions and hopefully he manages to change this damaging development in American politics!

    February 7, 2012 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  9. Chris

    Bringing a knife to a gun fight is the surest way to lose. Republicans have shown that they are clearly embracing and using super PACs to their full extent. While I'm sure Obama dislikes the super PACs, he's enough of a pragmatist to understand that if he doesn't make use of them and his opponents do then he's going to lose.

    February 7, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  10. T'sah From Virginia

    It takes TWO to tangle
    If you cannot BEAT THEM – JOIN THEM
    TWO can play at this GAME
    Show the Supreme Court the affects of what they created!!!

    Obama 2012

    February 7, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  11. Jariv

    Isn't this illegal ?

    February 7, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Once the court decided that money is speech, it has just gone down hill from there. Money shouldn't be considered speech because that means some people have more speech than others. I find that abhorent. We need less money in political races and more honest people who are of less means running and winning based on their ideas. That is what the founding fathers likely had wanted us to have.

    February 7, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  13. ABM

    Fantastic news. I want to see the spin from the GOP. They can't say he is engaged in Chicago style campaigning since they are doing the same thing.

    I do not like superpacs but I approve what Our President is doing to combat the Koch bros, Fox (faux) news, and anyone else who obstructs progress.

    As a registered republican I am look forward to the demise of the right wing nonsense.

    February 7, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Money is not speech, it just buys elections. It's pretty bizarre when our corrupt SCOTUS can legalized putting our government up for sale to the highest bidder and call that "free speech" yet a tent protest, like OWS, is not considered free speech.

    February 7, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I too oppose the Citizens United decision but I won't cut off my nose to spite my face. I was also against the President NOT using the funds set aside by the DNC for their presidential nominee. I felt he should have availed himself of every possible advantage just like the Rethuglikkklan candidate. So I am very glad that he is not taking his usual high road in this instance.I also disagree with him NOT showing up to these SuperPacs fundraising events, if it is soemthing that the law allows. The President is a HUGE draw he should use that to his benefit.Of course that's just my opinion. We will need every dollar to fight the Con machine and their puppet masters; and if anything has been proven these past 3 1/2 years is that taking the high road with these Rethugs is an excercise in futility. Let's level the playing field

    February 7, 2012 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  16. Rick

    What's good for the goose,..................

    February 7, 2012 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  17. Anonymous

    HAH! Big surprise! The Republicans aren't happy that Obama has decided to use Super PACs.

    Boo Hoo. Play with the bull, Romney will get the horns.

    February 7, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  18. Ssrx8

    I completely understand this move because it is the only way to survive politically. Obama didn't set the rules, the damn SCOTUS and those fiive radical conservative judges did. But this is the part where even if your candidate wins you don't really win because he owes $1 bllion worth of favors to his donors.

    February 7, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  19. diridi

    folks, give credit to this president. Give generously. I am sending some money to re-elect this dude. Obama2012.
    PS: Republicans sell this nation to China, India. Watch contract guys in NJ on cheating computer guys, we need Immigrants, and citizens for jobs.

    February 7, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  20. Surprise

    Obama flip flopping on something..WOW..what a shocker!

    February 7, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  21. Rob

    He changes his positions to fit his needs, not the country's.

    February 7, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  22. Bob

    So the President is suppose to prove his point by just letting the opposition's PAC's attack him...... kind of like the conservative "logic" that people should just voluntarily pay more taxes if they think their income bracket should be taxed higher..... "you can't penetrate the bubble"

    February 7, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  23. JT

    Who didn't see this coming? The empty suit has spoken again.

    February 7, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  24. brian

    Obama changing positions? Big surprise!!!

    February 7, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  25. Tony

    As Gingrich found out in the Iowa caucus, it is a bad idea to disarm unilaterally. The Citizens United ruling can be overturned, but not if Republicans regain the White House.

    February 7, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
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