The Democratic Party's leading super PAC will begin hitting President Donald Trump over coronavirus in four battleground states, using millions from liberal billionaire George Soros.
Priorities USA Action—the Democratic Party's largest super PAC—will spend $6 million this week on advertisements criticizing Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ads will run in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The PAC received $3 million in contributions from Soros's Democracy PAC on Feb. 21, new filings show. Soros's seven-figure donation accounts for 77 percent of the $3.9 million the PAC reported hauling in last month.
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Major Democratic donors have flooded battleground states, especially in the Midwest, with cash for anti-Trump campaigns in hopes of appealing to the president's voter base. CNN first reported Monday on Priorities USA's new ads, which are part of a larger plan by deep-pocketed liberal financiers and activist groups to divert large sums of cash into the region. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in several Midwestern states that she was expected to carry in the 2016 election.
As part of this plan, Priorities USA has said it intends to spend upward of $150 million against Trump in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. The PAC has hauled in $27 million since January 2019. Its largest donor has been billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, who has given the group $8 million this cycle. Soros is now the group's second-largest donor at $5 million.
The group did not respond to a request for comment.
Priorities is not the only group using the coronavirus pandemic to attack Trump. PACRONYM, a super PAC tied to the nonprofit ACRONYM, which was in charge of the botched Iowa app that caused chaos during the Iowa caucuses, is launching a similar campaign.
PACRONYM announced last Tuesday it will spend $5 million on digital advertising against Trump's response to the pandemic. Tara McGowan, the founder of ACRONYM, said it's imperative that Democratic groups push anti-Trump messaging while Democratic presidential contenders remain positive during the pandemic. Biden, however, slammed Trump on Monday over what he called a "failure of planning and preparation" for the coronavirus.
"This is a public health issue and a national security issue, but it's also a public policy issue and thus a political one," McGowan told the Washington Post.
McGowan's dark money nonprofit, which does not disclose its donors, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's PAC. It also received funding from failed presidential contender and billionaire donor Tom Steyer's PAC.
PACRONYM received $250,000 from Soros's Democracy PAC and $1 million from Sussman late last year. Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw added $1 million.
In addition to Priorities and PACRONYM, liberal operative David Brock's American Bridge PAC has assailed Trump's coronavirus response. American Bridge has also been active in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
"Our job is to hold Donald Trump accountable, and we have no plans to let up, particularly with a focus on economic issues as we've done to date," Bradley Beychok, the president of American Bridge, said. "But as this crisis unfolds and the country experiences the consequences of his incompetence, we're not going to give him a pass for bungling the government's response to this pandemic."
American Bridge plans to spend $50 million to "weaken" Trump in the Midwest. "We're now set to leverage our expertise to launch the largest persuasion media effort we've ever undertaken with the goal of making Trump a one-term president," Beychok said last year. "Donald Trump turned his back on the voters who gave him a lifeline in 2016. We plan to cut it."
Brock has close ties to the Democracy Alliance, a secretive club of millionaire and billionaire donors that Soros cofounded. The group's internal documents laid out a $275 million spending plan for the 2020 cycle. Brock and his top employees—including Beychok—have appeared at alliance gatherings in recent years.
Soros has also funded another project, called the Heartland Fund, housed at dark money behemoth Arabella Advisors. The fund targets Midwestern voters. Soros was joined by Scott Wallace, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District in 2018, in helping bankroll the effort.
Other efforts by liberal donors to campaign against Trump in the Midwest include at least $60 million from dark money group Future Majority. The group is led by D.C. strategists Matt Tompkins and Mark Riddle, who launched the super PAC backing Biden's candidacy.