A well financed - and shadowy - Republican Super PAC has arrived on the scene, aiming to pour millions of dollars into a GOTV effort aimed at counteracting the AFL-CIO's pledge to put 400,000 grassroots activists into motion.
As a Super PAC, the group, Republican Union, is not allowed to coordinate with any political party or campaign. However, there seem to be close ties between the Republican Party and the Republican Union.
According to his resumé, the group's Assistant Treasurer Patrick Davis worked from 2000 to 2004 as the political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. For part of that time, he was also the Republican National Committee's political director.
Davis spent a year in the White House, in the Office of Political Affairs under President George H. W. Bush.
The group's spokesperson Bo Harmon has a long history as a Republican operative. His pedigree includes working as political director of the Herman Cain campaign. After that, he moved on to the Gingrich campaign, and from 2007-2008, he was the voter contact director for the McCain-Palin campaign. In 2004, he worked for the Republican Party itself, in the communications department of the National Republican Campaign Committee.
Another leader of Republican Union is Jamie Brazil, a former Cain staff member and long-time political operative. Brazil was banned in 2005 from working in the securities and exchange industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority - at the time the National Association of Securities Dealers. Though his job was to deal with Pennsylvania municipalities, he had never actually been licensed to do so. He also never passed the test required by the industry to work in the securities field.
According to Harmon, "Republican Union intends to follow up this initial outreach with a targeted boots on the ground effort going person to person, neighborhood to neighborhood. This personal outreach to voters who have been abandoned by the out of touch policies of the current Democratic leadership will be what determines our success."
What this seems to mean is that the organization aims to pour millions of dollars into a Republican "astroturf" army, seemingly to counter labor's pledge to put 400,000 grassroots activists on the ground for Obama.
The Super PAC says it will do what it needs to bring out volunteers for Republican candidates, including paying for plain fair and hotel lodging.
And the group has money: The PAC announced Aug. 21 that it was unveiling a $1 million campaign aimed at Catholics who traditionally vote Democratic in five swing states: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Republican Union started off with a $1 million donation from an undisclosed donor - though PAC promises to reveal who she is at their filing - and plans to raise $15 million altogether.
According to the PAC's July 30 organizational filing with the Federal Elections Commission, the group "intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts."
Where the additional $14 million will come from is anyone's guess - and may never be revealed.
The group is focusing on Catholics, because, it argues in its press release, that demographic is "crucial for both presidential candidates, arguing that the majority of Catholics have gone for every winner since 1980. According to a press release from the Super PAC, "Securing a majority of the Catholic vote is critical to winning the presidential election. The Catholic-majority has voted for the winning candidate in every presidential contest since 1980, regardless of political party. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all won this crucial voting bloc."
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