October 24, 2019

Biden Allies Consider a Super-PAC to Boost His Lagging Campaign
(Bloomberg) -- Allies of Joe Biden are laying the groundwork for a potential super-PAC to support his presidential campaign, as the former vice president’s fundraising lags behind other Democrats, and as Republicans amass a record war chest for 2020.The Biden campaign suggested in a statement Thursday that the Democratic candidate would no longer oppose having donors provide unlimited amounts of money to a super-PAC designed to support him.“In this time of crisis in our politics, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement released by the campaign.Biden had rejected earlier efforts by his supporters to launch a super-PAC. But his campaign has struggled to keep up with the fundraising by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.Political strategists and supporters are preparing to form a fundraising group, reaching out to potential donors to gauge interest in giving. Among the people working on the effort, according to a source involved in the conversations, are Julianna Smoot, who was Barack Obama’s 2008 national finance director and a 2012 deputy campaign manager; Steve Schale, a top Florida adviser to both Obama campaigns; and Larry Rasky, a longtime Biden adviser.“We intend to fight back against the lies and distortions we’re seeing now from Trump, his allies, the Russians, and the Republican Party,” Rasky said in a statement. “While other candidates have groups supporting their efforts, no other Democrat has to fight this two-front war. We know Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump – and so does Donald Trump. That is why our friend Joe Biden is the target and why we will have his back.”New York investor Bernard Schwartz, a longtime Democratic donor, said he’s been asked to give and intends to. “Biden has a group of people that he can rely on who will give large sums of money to a super-PAC when he creates it. I am, for one,” he said.Schwartz spoke with Biden before Thursday’s announcement and said the former vice president was “not at all disavowing a super PAC” when they spoke.Another longtime Biden supporter also confirmed ongoing conversations about the super-PAC but declined to share specifics about the planning.Schwartz said he did not know whether the super-PAC would work toward helping Biden win the Democratic nomination or would focus solely on President Donald Trump and the general election.Biden donors are expressing concern about his inability to keep up with the money raised by the other top-tier Democrats during the third quarter of the year.He only had $9 million cash on hand number at the end of the quarter, putting him behind Kamala Harris, who is polling in single digits. Biden raised $15.7 million during the third quarter, about $2 million less than the campaign spent during those three months, according to campaign finance filings.Schwartz, the head of BLS Investments, a private investment firm in New York, said he would not give to the super-PAC effort until Biden asks him to.When Schwartz raised the prospect of the super-PAC in a recent conversation, Biden told him it’s not a priority at this point.“It’s on the agenda but it’s not the primary issue on the agenda,” Schwartz said. “He’s confident enough that he can call upon it when he wants to call upon it.”Other candidates and their allies who have disavowed super-PACs criticized Biden’s move Thursday, as did advocates for campaign finance reform.“The path forward for his campaign depends on Democratic primary voters trusting that they’d have more say in a Biden administration than big money donors,” Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, said in a statement. “It is incredibly disappointing to see Vice President Biden completely reverse his position now that times are tough. This is exactly the time he needs support from real people the most. We urge him to reconsider this decision and disavow this super PAC.”Muller’s group had called on all Democratic presidential hopefuls to disavow single-candidate super PACs during the Democratic primary. Super-PACs became legal after the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United.Bedingfield said that even as Biden no longer distances himself from a super-PAC, he “will push to remove private money from our federal elections” and “will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs.”(Updates paragraphs 6 and 7 with statement from Larry Rasky.)\--With assistance from Tyler Pager.To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Washington at jepstein32@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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