‘When I joined the Army Reserves … I never thought that one of the greatest threats to our country would be the corruption we’re witnessing in Washington today…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) A massive super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has been funneling millions of dollars through political front-groups to bankroll a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in North Carolina.
It raises the question of why the powerful New York progressive is hiding his funding relationship with the Tar Heel ‘moderate.’
Despite his pledge not to receive corporate PAC money, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham has been the beneficiary of more than $13 million in outside spending, mostly originating from Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC.
Democrats are desperate to regain control of the Senate and have targeted North Carolina’s incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis as a possible flip. Cunningham received overwhelming support from the Democratic establishment during the state’s March 3 primary election, when he crushed his main competition, Erica Smith, 57-35.
Smith, a female and African American, had endorsed a far-left platform. Cunningham, an Iraq war veteran, has sought to stake out a more centrist label while courting disaffected Republicans in the historically red state. But his ties to the controversial and polarizing Schumer are not likely to win him any crossover voters.
The Senate Majority PAC is the largest Democratic super PAC focusing on Senate races. Its president J.B. Poersh is a close ally of Schumer. Poersch formerly ran the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has given Cunningham $1.1 million this election cycle.
Recent filings with the Federal Elections Commission indicate that the Washington, DC-based Senate Majority PAC gave an organization called VoteVets.org more than $7.8 million during the North Carolina primary. That group, along with its sister organization VoteVets.org Action Fund, recycled the money and spent $7.5 million on behalf of Cunningham’s campaign.
Not a single donor was from North Carolina, according to a review of FEC records. Contributions mostly came from New York City, Chicago, California and Washington, DC. Notable donors include the Pacific Environmental Coalition and billionaire Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings.
Both VoteVets.org and VoteVets.org Action Fund are PACs that were founded as veterans’ lobbies in 2006, but they give almost exclusively to Democrats—regardless of whether candidates are veterans—and they push liberal positions on issues such as climate change with the veneer of military servicemen and servicewomen.
Along with Cunningham, who remains in the Army reserves, VoteVets.org backed Pete Buttigieg, an Afghanistan war veteran, before he dropped out of the presidential primary.
Carolina Blue is another group that has delivered millions in support to Cunningham’s campaign. The mysterious dark money organization was formed in early February and rained $4.5 million in outside spending on behalf of the Democratic Senate hopeful.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, Carolina Blue purposely filed with the FEC so that it didn’t have to disclose its donors until late March, long after the North Carolina primary election.
The group uses the same ad buyer as Senate Majority PAC—Waterfront Strategies—-an equally nebulous consulting firm that is linked to former Barack Obama campaign adviser Jim Margolis, according to HuffPost.
Ironically, Cunningham has denounced the reliance on corporate PACs’ dark money in his own messaging.
“When I joined the Army Reserves…I never thought that one of the greatest threats to our country would be the corruption we’re witnessing in Washington today,” he said in his first TV ad.
The ad portrays the squeaky-clean image of an honest moderate, but it makes no mention of the millions in Schumer-aligned super PAC money Cunningham is willing to accept—or the strings that come with it.