12:12 pm Jun. 6, 2012
As part of his newfound engagement on behalf of President Obama's re-election effort, former president Bill Clinton is reportedly set to help raise money for Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC that's so far struggled to excite wealthy liberal donors.
They might want to ask Andrew Cuomo for help, too.
Cuomo's super PAC-like organization, the Committee to Save New York, significantly outraised Obama's Priorities USA Action in the organizations' inaugural years.
According to its latest tax filing, Cuomo's Committee took in more than $17 million in 2011, while Priorities had raised a total of $10.5 million through the end of April, when the group celebrated its first birthday.
One reason for the discrepancy might be the relative enthusiasm expressed by Cuomo and Obama about the fund-raising entities they're affiliated with.
According to the New York Times, the Cuomo administration actively steered interested donors to support the Committee. Obama, on the other hand, had inveighed against the existence of super PACs, before reluctantly endorsing Priorities' efforts in February of this year.
(So far, that endorsement hasn't translated to much of an uptick in donations.)
The Committee to Save New York can also offer something that Priorities' PAC can't: anonymity. As a 501(c)4, the Committee's donations don't have to be disclosed, though the New York Times uncovered that a $2 million contribution came from the Casino Gaming Association, with another $400,000 added later by the casino company Genting. And a Buffalo-area trade group told the Buffalo News it bundled donations that totaled nearly $1 million.
The 501(c)4 arm of Priorities, called simply Priorites USA, is able to offer that kind of anonymity, and might prove more attractive to big donors who would rather not see their name in the news. That's certainly been the case for the the Republican group Crossroads GPS, which has collected $76 million for its non-profit, compared to just under $30 million for its PAC.
The caveat here is that Priorities' nonprofit arm—the group is comprised of both a PAC and an ostensibly nonpolitical, nonprofit organization—has yet to file with the I.R.S., making it impossible to know the true extent of the group's fund-raising. But it's still not a good sign that Priorities' PAC, which has already lagged behind the $56 million raised by its counterpart supporting Mitt Romney, is trailing Cuomo too.
Another reason for the disparity might be that Priorities has a general mission to support the president's re-election, while Cuomo's Committee ostensibly has a more precise and business-friendly purpose: to lobby on behalf of the governor's budget, which makes for a more direct connection between the business interests and the group's donations.