With 2012 on the horizon, Democrats have begun to open the door to anonymous donors, using the same kinds of organizations they criticized Republicans for relying on in 2010. The Los Angeles Times reports that Democrats are forming independent political organizations set up to accept unlimited and undisclosed contributions, in a sign that they have begun to play by the rules allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
The Times mentions Majority PAC, “a new group aimed at electing Democrats to the Senate,” and American Bridge 21st Century, “which will serve as a research hub,” as examples of new Democratic so-called “super political action committees.” While super PACs report their contributors to the FEC, they can also take in unlimited amounts of money from nonprofit 501(c)(4) social welfare groups, which in turn can raise money from undisclosed donors. According to the Times, both Majority PAC and American Bridge 21st Century are affiliated with 501(c)(4) groups.
A similar structure is reportedly being considered by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, who may launch an independent expenditure effort to support the President’s re-election.
According to the Times, the action “reflects a widespread consensus among Democrats that they were insufficiently aggressive in raising large donations last year after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.”
“In 2010 … we sat on our hands in protest and got stomped on the airwaves and at the ballot box,” Chris Harris, a spokesman for American Bridge, said. “Politics is a prize fight, and when you’re getting pounded in the ring, you don’t complain to the ref, you fight back.”
Democrats, including the President, denounced Republicans’ use of anonymous donors in the last election cycle. Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads super PAC and Crossroads GPS 501(c)(4) told the Times that Democrats establishing the kind of group he works for is “stunning in its hypocrisy.”
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com