The left's premier group against money in politics has teamed up with six establishment-backed Democratic Senate candidates in an unusual fundraising venture that runs counter to many pledges put forth by those candidates.
The End Citizens United PAC quietly entered into a joint fundraising agreement in April with six Democratic Senate campaigns, several of whom have decried the influence of money in politics, including Steve Bullock of Montana, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Theresa Greenfield of Iowa, and Sara Gideon of Maine. While joint fundraising ventures are a relatively common practice, the agreements tend to be between campaigns and party committees, not outside groups.
The Democratic candidates who are party to the agreement have advocated for overhauling the campaign finance system and cracking down on coordination between campaigns and outside groups.
A spokesman for End Citizens United said the group maintains strict internal separation between the arm that makes independent expenditures and the one that coordinates with campaigns.
Bullock, currently the governor of Montana, has spent his career pushing to eliminate dark money in politics. As a presidential candidate, he ran on "One Big Idea"—campaign finance reform—and attacked several of his Democratic rivals who were boosted by outside groups.
Greenfield, who is duking it out with other Democrats in Iowa's Senate primary, has released an anti-corruption plan that calls to end "campaign coordination with outside groups." Her campaign was hit with a Federal Election Commission complaint following a Washington Free Beacon report on its potential coordination with the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).
Gideon, who is vying to replace Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) has called overturning Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts on politics, the "first step to fixing corruption in Washington."
The joint fundraising venture allows committees to share fundraising costs and split between them the money raised. Democrats Cal Cunningham in North Carolina and Raphael Warnock in Georgia are also a part of the new agreement.
Update 7:26 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from an End Citizens United spokesperson and to reflect the group is a PAC rather than a super PAC.