African-American political operatives are worried the rush to disavow super PACs among Democrats will adversely impact candidates of color.
The Collective PAC, a group working to fix African-American underrepresentation in politics, is asking liberal organizations to stop pressuring 2020 Democrats to reject super PACs, as first reported by Politico.
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"Whether intentional or not, the effect of what you are calling for is to shut down the one reliable source of revenue for engaging voters of color and for supporting candidates of color," the PAC's leadership wrote in a letter to Democracy for America and other groups. "One of the few sources of funding for the work to engage voters of color and support candidates of color has come from Super PACs."
The group argues that minority candidates are often ignored by the Democratic establishment when it comes to fundraising. Such candidates, especially those seeking office for the first time, have been increasingly forced to rely on outside spending to win primaries.
Collective PAC has sought to remedy the imbalance since its launch in August 2016. The group's website claims to have "raised and bundled" more than $6.5 million for black candidates at the local, state, and federal levels. In 2018 alone, the PAC raised more than $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.) was the first high-profile Democratic presidential candidate to reject the support of super PACs during his 2016 presidential run. Even though Sanders's disavowal wasn't completely successful, his calls to reject outside money became a litmus test for groups like End Citizens United and Democracy for America.
Not everyone, however, feels a few liberal groups should dictate how Democratic candidates raise money.
"The Democratic Party and the progressive ecosystem have a very bad track record in terms of investing in candidates of color," said Steve Phillips, a Democratic donor who bundled more than $10 million for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. "There are not many people in this country who have moved more money to communities of color and have moved more money to candidates of color than I have, and I’m not going to be lectured by people who don’t have a similar track record."
Nearly every 2020 Democrat running, except for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, has disavowed super PACs.