The uncharted waters of Super PACs just became a bit murkier.
President Barack Obama's Priorities USA Action, along with the Democratic Senate's Super PAC, Majority PAC, and the Democratic House Majority PAC are combining to form the country's first-ever joint fundraising Super PAC — Unity 2012. [See the latest political cartoons.]
An FEC official told Whispers that there aren't any regulations prohibiting this kind of fundraising, but confirmed this is unprecedented; it's the first time any Super PAC has tried to form a committee of this magnitude.
FEC reports show that for the 2012 elections, the three Democratic committees have raised $10 million in total, but that's chump change compared to Romney's Super PAC, Restore Our Future, which has raised nearly $37 million so far. [Jack Abramoff Proposes Reforms for Corrupt Lobbying.]
"This joint effort is basically a convenience for donors who are looking to participate in more than one progressive organization," says Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA Action.
Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at the Brookings Instituition says the new fundraising model mirrors the PAC strategy Democrats used in 2004, which helped consolidate the efforts of otherwise competing progressive groups.
"You can envision a situation where given a limited number of Democratic checks. This way Democrats can go to these donors with a unified front," Corrado says. "This is a way they can approve their efficiency and effectiveness of their fundraising. This is a way they can hold joint events."
Craig Holman, a campaign finance expert at Public Citizen, a group committed to government transparency, says it is likely the Democratic Super PACs are uniting in hopes that they will bolster their chances against GOP Super PACs that have significantly outraised them.
"It is certainly an interesting experiment," Holman says. "It is being touted as one-stop shopping for voters who want to support Democrats generally, but it seems to be born out of the weakness of the individual Democratic PACs."
Holman says joint fundraising committees are ubiquitous within traditional PACs that have contribution limits, but with the Citizens United ruling, Super PACs face no restrictions in fundraising, making this kind of joint committee fundraising repetitive.
"This may help fundraising for the Democratic party, but I don't see it becoming a common feature for the other group," Holman says. "Technically, there are no other big advantages. They can already raise unlimited money."
FEC rules require joint committees to clearly state how funds will be dispersed between various Super PACs, but so far Unity 2012 has not made that information available.