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May 11, 2022

AP Campaign Finance Roundup: May 10, 2022

AP Campaign Finance Roundup: May 10, 2022

May 11, 2022
Published By American Promise
Another installment in our series of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class.

Watchdog group sues FEC over citizenship of liberal donor

From The Hill:

A government watchdog group has filed a suit against the FEC for failing to investigate their claim that Hansjörg Weiss, a Swiss billionaire, has funneled millions of dollars to liberal dark-money groups. Weiss has previously claimed that he is a “citizen of Switzerland” and does not carry a US passport or green card. A spokesperson for two of Weiss’s organizations has claimed that they specifically prohibit recipients of their donations from using the money for political purposes. Conveniently, many of the groups he funds are dark money groups that don’t have to reveal the sources of their funding. A foreign billionaire funneling millions of dollars into our elections seems like the sort of thing the FEC ought to at least investigate without needing to be sued, but they’re probably busy. Gotta finish their Netflix queue before they can’t share a password anymore. 

A dark money group set up to support Lou Barletta for Pennsylvania governor just turned on him

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Inquirer puts it best: “File this under Puzzling Political Flip-Flops.” A Super PAC that was registered as supporting gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta has gone from running attack ads against his opponent to running attack ads against Barletta. The PAC is run out of Georgia by political operatives who run dozens of different PACs. Maybe they got confused about which PAC they were buying ads for? Or maybe Barletta upset a critical donor, and is just facing the natural consequences of relying on outside groups and donors to campaign for you. 

Kurt Schrader’s Hypocritical Citizens United Ad

From Sludge:

Representative Kurt Schrader has put out a new ad saying he opposes Citizens United and supports a Constitutional amendment to end unlimited political spending. That’s all well and good, except for the fact that Schrader has been the treasurer of a Super PAC since 2016, and that PAC has been donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to another PAC that’s backing his own campaigns. Schrader has decried spending by billionaires to block climate legislation, while himself taking money from billionaires and voting to block climate legislation. At least he has first-hand knowledge of the system he’s supposedly opposing. 

Pro-Biden super PAC launches six-figure paid influencer program

From The Verge:

American innovation never ceases to amaze. At least when it comes to new and annoying ways to put political advertising in front of people. Democratic Super PAC American Bridge has launched a nine-figure media buy ahead of the 2022 midterms, including a six-figure investment into “podcast and influencer media.” This includes paying Instagram and TikTok creators to sing songs about Biden’s accomplishments or tout the virtues of the American Rescue Plan while making a face mask. Exactly what we need: more money for social media influencers and more political ads.

Crypto cash flows into midterm elections as the industry flexes its political clout

From CNBC:

Upon discovering that the IRS would be imposing new reporting requirements on the cryptocurrency industry, industry leaders and officials sprung into action: to bankroll PACs and candidates in an effort to exert political influence on Washington. Many pro-crypto PACs have sprung up, including Protect Our Future PAC, which has raised $14 million. These PACs have started to endorse and back candidates of both parties in primary elections across the country. They’ve even started opposing candidates who do horrible things to the industry like point out the volatility of crypto or try to stop Russia from using cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions. Honestly, using their money to buy political influence is probably the closest crypto has come to being an actual “legitimate” industry

Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary draws backing from some of Wall Street’s biggest billionaires, making it one of the most expensive midterm races. 

From CNBC: 

Dr. Mehmet Oz and former Bridgewater CEO Dave McCormick are the two front-runners in the Republican primary for Senate in Pennsylvania, which is already one of the most expensive races in the country. $45 million has been spent on ads in the Republican primary alone. Both candidates are backed by different groups of Wall Street executives, and as much as I would like to say “let them fight,” at the end of the day we all lose when personal connections to Wall Street and access to tens of millions of dollars becomes a requirement to run for office. 

Dozens of members of Congress up for reelection in 2022 midterms received the majority of their campaign funds from PACs

From OpenSecrets:

Ninety-six members of Congress, approximately a quarter of those running for reelection, have received over half of their campaign funding from PACs. This amount is, admittedly, down from 2020, and has been decreasing since 2016. But that’s a bit like saying your house is slightly less on fire than it was a few minutes ago: technically an improvement, but still not really what you want to be happening. Especially since the amount of PAC money in the election is already at $225 million and expected to increase significantly. 

Democratic megadonor Soros puts $1 million into Abrams’ campaign

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Stacy Abrams, who is running for Governor of Georgia, recently received a $1 million contribution from Democratic megadonor George Soros. The donation was to Abrams’ leadership committee, a type of fundraising vehicle that is not subject to many limitations on how much money it can raise. Abrams will have to wait a little bit to use her new cash, though. A Georgia law only permits candidates to use money from their leadership committees after they win the primary. Originally, incumbents, like Governor Brian Kemp were allowed to use their leadership committee money immediately, but a judge decided that was just a little unfair and required Kemp to pause his fundraising. Can’t let things get unfair between the people throwing millions of dollars at each other. 

Election being bought’: Budd’s outside support consolidates GOP Senate candidate criticism

From the Charlotte Observer:

Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina are upset that the super PAC Club for Growth has spent $8 million of a planned $14 million to support Rep. Ted Budd. The Budd campaign has responded by attacking the PACs raising millions of dollars for his opponents. A senior advisor for Budd pointed out that “There are no super-PAC virgins in this senate campaign.” 

Criticism of the Club for Growth seems to center on the sheer volume of money being spent to support Budd, but I’m sure all of the other candidates would keep their principled stances and refuse the $14 million worth of support if it were offered to them. They’re real Americans, people who can relate to the common person scraping by on only $1-$2 million worth of PAC support.

Democratic group reserves $5M in TV ad time for Maine governor’s race

From the Bangor Daily News:

Here we go again. In 2020, Maine got to deal with an endless barrage of nationally-funded ads in one of the most expensive Senate races in the country (for more on that mess, check out American Promise’s Under the Avalanche report on Maine’s $200 million Senate race). In 2021, it was Question 1, a ballot campaign with multi-billion dollar power companies and the government of Quebec (yes, that Quebec) bombarding the state with ads. Now, we get what is going to be a hotly-contested gubernatorial election between Governor Janet Mills and former Governor Paul LePage. Already, the Democratic Governors Association has reserved $5 million in TV ad time to support Mills, and the state Republican party has reserved $4 million for LePage. Maybe I’ll go live in a cave until the election is over if election season really ever ends anymore.  Nah, that sounds like it’d get boring pretty fast. I’d rather volunteer for the American Promise Protect Maine Elections ballot initiative (sign up now at protectmaineelections.com!), or at least send them a contribution (protectmaineelections.nationbuilder.com/donate2) from my cave so they can get us back on track. 

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Another installment in our series of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class.
Another installment in our series of stories about how our elections are being bought out from under us and all that matters is fundraising and the donor class.
American Promise mobilizes Lobby Day in Harrisburg for HR 317 and SR 212, in support of the For Our Freedom Constitutional Amendment.