Moving On: Former Clinton chief of staff eyes $100m PAC
Jason Rhyne
Published: Monday November 12, 2007
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Democratic candidates may have a powerful new ally in their 2008 election campaigns -- a well-heeled 527 group with up to $100 million in its coffers.

The new group, to be called the The Fund for America, has filed papers with the IRS as a 527 organization, a distinction that will allow it to collect unlimited soft-money contributions from supporters, according to Roll Call's Matthew Murray. Activists involved in the project include former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta (above right), Anna Burber, chair of the Change to Win labor coalition, and philanthropist Rob McKay.

Democratic strategists familiar with the group told the paper that money from the 527 will be primarily slotted for TV and radio spots, as well as direct mail and voter canvassing efforts.

The liberal political action committee, also a 527, has raised millions on behalf of Democratic candidates. Wealthy financier George Soros single-handedly committed $5 million to the group's election efforts in 2004. But the new group will take a slightly different approach, according to Roll Call.

"The fund also is expected to be distinctly different from its 2004 liberal forefathers in two ways: The group will not have employees and it is not expected to magically disappear after the election," writes Murray.

“They don’t intend to replicate America Coming Together or the Media Fund; they intend to raise money and spend money on soft money operations, voter contact through existing organizations or new organizations,” a source told Roll Call. “There’s been discussions of creating an organization along the lines of the Media Fund, where they would produce and air TV and radio spots."

One of the first potential beneficiary's of the group's funds, according to the paper, is First Tuesday Media, a "political production company" made up largely of Hollywood executives.

"The goal of the company, which was created last year but whose existence has not previously been reported, is to use the creative minds of Hollywood to create content -- Web and television -- designed to move a political or policy message," the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote of First Tuesday in September.

Fund for America's announcement comes amidst ongoing attempts by the Federal Election Commission to police such political groups.

In August, the FEC slapped the left-leaning 527 group American Coming Together with $775,000 fine for underwriting too many of its activities with non-federal funds. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the 527 which aired TV spots critical of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, was hit with a $300,000 fine. The voter fund of settled with the FEC last year for $150,000.

"A Democratic election law lawyer who preferred not to be named suggested that recent court cases and the FEC’s ongoing crackdown has done more to create a template, rather than a deterrent for motivated activists on both sides of the aisle who are looking for fissures in campaign finance law," writes Murray.

Read the full story in Roll Call (subscription required).