The manager of President Obama’s re-election effort is defending the campaign’s decision to back a so-called super PAC, despite the president’s fierce criticism of the Supreme Court decision which led to the proliferation of such shadowy influence groups.
The Obama campaign is supporting Priorities USA, a super PAC founded by two former Obama White House aides, says Jim Messina in an email to supporters sent late Monday night.
“We decided to do this because we can’t afford for the work you’re doing in your communities, and the grassroots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads,” Messina tells supporters.
During his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama famously denounced the ruling, Citizens United, which swept away decades of campaign-finance regulation and paved the way for today’s multitude of super PACs, many backing Republican candidates and causes.
Messina acknowledges the support for a super PAC is “a real risk.”
“In 2011, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney raised $30 million from fewer than 200 contributors. Ninety-six percent of what they’ve spent so far, more than $18 million, has been on attack ads. The main engine of Romney’s campaign has an average contribution of roughly $150,000,” he says. ” … The stakes are too important to play by two different sets of rules. If we fail to act, we concede this election to a small group of powerful people intent on removing the President at any cost.”
A recent Washington Post report finds that conservative-powered super PACs could make the eventual GOP nominee much more competitive against Obama in November.
Messina, however, also seeks to temper the influence of super PACs with the small-dollar donors backing Obama’s re-election bid.
“That’s why it’s up to us — the grassroots organization — to win this election where we have the real advantage, and that’s on the ground,” he says. “More than 1.3 million Americans have already donated. Our average donation is $55, and 98 percent are $250 or less.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.