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. McCy

    Very disappointing decision.

    February 7, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. Janet

    Sorry, Mr. President, but it still feels like hypocrisy. Someone HAS to take a stand, and you have chosen the wrong path. You can already see the damage done by superpacs in the American discourse that is the primaries. Gingrich and Romney have pummeled each other with 'disassociated' pacs, and it's wrong. You can not say one thing and do another.

    February 7, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. Ben

    I doesn't bother me at all that he is using and funding his super pac now. What bothers me is that he is changing his ideals and campaign stances based on the current trend and/or what's best for him. This reminds me too much of his 2008 campaign when he made so many promises and didn't deliver (and yes, with a Dem. majority in congress). "You either stand for something or stand for nothing."

    February 7, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  4. GoalieLax

    a democrat who fights fire with fire. what a novel concept

    February 7, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. steven

    one must fight fire with fire...as long as the law exists then the president must use it to his advntage just as the republicans are doing...not to do so would be political suicide....but i am sure that he will continue to try to remove the law from the books...

    February 7, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. DamnUfools

    I don't consider this a flip-flop... although it inherently is! However it has become a necessary evil in order to compete effectively. Hopefully it will be abolished from both sides in future elections.

    February 7, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. Jay

    Liberals, Liberals, Liberals............Is that silence I hear from the Obama supporters?

    February 7, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Fair Taxes

    Politics is an arms race. No candidate can let the other side have the heavy weapons and expect to survive.

    America needs to take its politicians off the "for sale" list, and repeal Citizens United.

    February 7, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Jason

    I'm expecting at least a few republicans running in here yelling "IT'S UNFAIR!" even though Romney himself has hundreds of millions of dollars which he could freely use to back the GOP Super-PACs. How the Supreme Court allowed for this to happen is beyond me.

    February 7, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  10. Lee

    Wow.. bobo sures know how to change is mind quickly.

    February 7, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  11. Rob

    'we must embrace evil to defeat evil'. Sorry, bad move Mr. President.

    February 7, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  12. Sagebrush Shorty

    Typical Obama behavior.

    February 7, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  13. SWPhilly

    It's just absolutely crazy that you are forced to raise a ton of money to be able to compete in a general election for POTUS. All of this money raised goes to commercials to state your position or opposition within a 30 second window on tv or online. I don't like the fact that President Obama is going with a super pac, but the reality is that he can't compete financially with the GOP and their super pacs, without Obama being supported by the money from a super pac as well.

    It's pathetic that over $500 million dollars from both parties combined is spent on running for POTUS.

    February 7, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  14. Chris

    Anyone that thinks this guy is unlike every other politician is wrong.

    February 7, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Kev

    Of course President Obozo is encouraging more fundraiser. According the BBC President Obozo is receiving money for his Presidency from a man named Juan Jose Rojas Cardona of Chicago. But Juan-Jose has a brother named Pepe Cardona that is seeking a Pardon for Drug and Trafficing. So does this tell you Obozo supporters that President Obozo will go to any lengths to be re-elected. Have to wonder if President Obozo supports the Drug Cartels in Mexico now that he is receiving money from them. But guess what President Obozo and his cronies got caught and now giving the money back. Hmmmm interesting don't you think?

    February 7, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. Enough is Enough

    I wonder if Obama will now thank the supream court after he slandered them in his state of the union speech regarding their decision on super pacs.

    February 7, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. Ricke

    Obama rejected Federal campaign funding for 2008 which would have limited him and out spent McCain. Now in 2012 the fruit of his decision is evident. Big money is running and ruining our government. Thanks Barack for opening the door wide to influence peddling. PS How much is Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley giving you on this cycle?

    February 7, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. Joe M.

    As you can tell from the relentless assault on the Komen Foundation for trying to stop voluntary donations to Planned Parenthood, the trouble with disclosure of donations to these Super PACs would be an all-out war by liberal groups on businesses and individuals who choose to give to GOP causes.

    February 7, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. Mike D

    Gotta fight fire with fire. After this election, though, I'd love to see Citizens United overturned.

    February 7, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. skog

    I wonder if Colbert and Stewart will do another little comedic skit on super pacs mocking the President ?

    February 7, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  21. JohnnyGenius

    Obama final realized that the moral high ground doesn't do much for politics.

    February 7, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. Ben

    OK Libs, explain this one. You have been given months of warning that the President had planned the largest Super PAC of all, you have decried them, complained and said it was buying the office. Now, as expected as he gets into campaign mode, the big switch. What gives, and, please do not say he had to, that is a cop out.

    February 7, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  23. Edward

    If the economy improves he can't lose anyway. None of this really matters.

    February 7, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  24. Jeff

    "We will not unilaterally disarm"

    I don't beleive the American people want an arms race in campaign finance. Throw these idiots out...

    February 7, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. Girish

    What - Obama changing position to help him keep HIS job - Totally not Obama.

    February 7, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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