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2.10.20

In Surest Sign Mitch McConnell Is Worried About Thom Tillis, GOP Super PAC Now Posing As Democratic Group To Meddle In Democratic Senate Primary

It’s Been Four Days Since Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC Refused To Deny Being Behind GOP Meddling In Democratic Senate Primary

RALEIGH, NC – It has been four days since a GOP-affiliated secret money super PAC, operating under the name “Faith & Power,” began investing at least $2.4 million, including in TV and digital advertising, to try to interfere in the North Carolina Democratic Senate primary — the clearest sign yet that weak incumbent Thom Tillis, Mitch McConnell and Washington Republicans are panicked by the prospect of facing Cal Cunningham in the general election.

The ties between the secret money group and McConnell-aligned organizations in Washington have been reported by the Associated Press and McClatchy: Faith & Power PAC uses the same bank used by the Senate Leadership Fund, Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, as well as a media buying firm known for its work with Republicans.

The McConnell-aligned super PAC is refusing to deny any association with the group: when contacted for comment“a spokesman for the Senate Leadership fund could not be reached.”

“Mitch McConnell and his allies are so desperate to avoid running against life-long North Carolinian and decorated veteran Cal Cunningham in November that they’ve resorted to posing as Democrats in North Carolina to try to influence the Democratic primary, but voters will not be fooled,” said Rachel Petri, a spokesperson for Cal Cunningham. “The Senate Leadership Fund’s refusal to deny any association with these dirty tricks shows North Carolinians all they need to know about this desperate attempt to interfere in our election.”

More coverage below: 

CNN: GOP-affiliated group intervenes in Democratic primary for US Senate seat in North Carolina

  • The first significant ad buy for state Sen. Erica Smith, a Democratic candidate for US Senate in North Carolina, appears to be backed by Republicans.
  • Faith and Power, a new political action committee with ties to Republicans, formally launched on January 29 and spent more than $1.9 million to influence the Democratic primary, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission and the Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

WSOC Charlotte: Ad for U.S. Democratic Senate candidate funded by PAC with GOP ties

  • An ad for a U.S. Democratic Senate candidate is being funded by a PAC with GOP ties.
  • Viewers who watch the ad may think it was produced by a liberal group with its praise for Smith’s positions. However, public documents reveal GOP ties to the PAC responsible for the message.
  • So why is a group with so many Republican ties trying to boost a progressive state senator? Political scientist Michael Bitzer said they likely view her as an easier opponent for incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis.

Charlotte Observer: PAC is spending $1 million in NC’s Democratic Senate primary. Does it have GOP ties?

  • A new super PAC is spending $1.6 million on TV ads on behalf of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith, who lags far behind her main competitor in fundraising. And based on the group’s media buyer, treasurer and other factors, it appears tied to Republicans.
  • Democrats believe the ad is a Republican attempt to undermine Cunningham. “The fact that Washington Republicans are trying to meddle in our Democratic Primary should outrage every Democrat in North Carolina,” said state Rep. Cecil Brockman, a Cunningham supporter. “This is the latest, desperate sign that Republicans are scared to run against Cal Cunningham.”
  • Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show the PAC uses the Chain Bridge Bank in McLean, Va. The bank has been used by many Republican groups including the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to Senate Republicans. The bank is about 340 miles north of Jacksonville.
  • The ad buyer, Neylan and Partners, is known for placing ads for Republicans. The listed treasurer for the Faith and Power PAC is Ezekiel Patterson. The only registered N.C. voter by that name is a Republican who lives in Monroe. He could not be reached.
  • Property records show the house is owned by Salvatore Purpura. A man by the same name is identified in FEC filings as a consultant for several Republicans, including Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign.
  • A spokesman for the Senate Leadership fund could not be reached.

Associated Press: Ad backing Democrat could be Republican primary mischief

  • Thomas Mills, a longtime North Carolina Democratic consultant not involved with any of the candidates, called the ad buy “clearly Republican meddling in a Democratic primary.”
  • The state Democratic Party, which is neutral in the primary, says Republicans are trying to distract voters from Tillis. “Voters should decide who our state’s nominee for U.S. Senate will be to challenge Senator Tillis — not outside Republican operatives,” party spokesman Robert Howard said in a release.