A new super PAC connected to a network of nonpartisan political action committees put roughly $146,000 behind Democratic House candidates this week ahead of competitive primary elections later this month.
Progress Tomorrow, Inc., a super PAC created in late June, has spent about $77,900 supporting Democrat Joe Radinovich in Minnesota’s 8th District House primary since July 27, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports filed this week. The super PAC has also spent about $68,600 backing incumbent Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) in Florida’s 9th District House primary.
Progress Tomorrow, which was created on June 28, has reported raising $1.35 million from only two super PACs: United Together and Forward Not Back. These three super PACs appear to be connected to a larger network of groups reportedly orchestrated by No Labels, a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization aimed at promoting bipartisanship in Congress.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet, citing FEC documents and interviews with donors, first reported in March that United Together and Forward Not Back are two of multiple super PACs created by No Labels. Citizens for a Strong America, Govern Or Go Home and United for Progress, Inc. are other super PACs connected to the nonprofit, the Sun-Times reported.
The three PACs involved in the Minnesota and Florida election spending share the same treasurer, Bruce Goren. United Together and Forward Not Back were created on the same day in March 2017, according to FEC filings, and both are based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
OpenSecrets has identified two additional PACs with links to No Labels, including No Labels Action, Inc., a super PAC created in June that has received nearly $2.5 million from four other PACs with connections to the nonprofit. Clarine Nardi Riddle, a former Connecticut attorney general who helped found the organization, is No Labels Action’s treasurer.
Patriotic Americans PAC, an eighth super PAC, also appears to be connected to No Labels, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of recent FEC filings. Patriotic Americans, based in Charlotte, received $600,000 from Citizens for a Strong America and shares a treasurer with two PACs that contributed to No Labels Action. That treasurer, Ruth Rochelle Stoner, is the co-chair of No Labels’ Minnesota chapter, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Patriotic Americans on Wednesday reported spending more than $88,400 to support GOP candidate Steve Watkins in Kansas’ 2nd District House race.
No Labels began in 2010 as a movement to promote bipartisan policymaking in Congress. The organization eventually helped inspire the creation of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 48 representatives from both sides of the aisle that share No Labels’ goal of fostering bipartisan problem-solving. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) are the current caucus co-chairs.
No Labels did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Combined, the eight super PACs connected to No Labels have raised more than $9.8 million in itemized individual donations, primarily from five- and six-figure donors. Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan Selig and Wheels Inc. executive Jim Frank are among the handful of donors who contributed to two or more of the eight PACs. Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch has also contributed $500,000 to United Together, one of the super PACs funding Progress Tomorrow.
The smallest donations came from Andrew Bursky, a No Labels co-founder. He made $1,000 donations to six of the PACs with links to the nonprofit, though his contributions to Patriotic Americans, Govern Or Go Home and United Together were refunded earlier this year.
The super PACs have spent more than $3 million supporting and opposing candidates of both parties in the 2018 election cycle.
- United for Progress, Inc., spent more than $931,600 opposing Democrat Marie Newman in Illinois’ 3rd District House primary. It spent more than $44,200 supporting her opponent, incumbent Rep. Daniel Lipinski, who won the primary.
- United Together spent more than $148,700 supporting Democrat John Morganelli in Pennsylvania’s 7th District House primary. It spent nearly $234,000 opposing two other Democrats in the race, including Susan Wild, who won the primary.
- Forward Not Back spent more than $253,200 supporting Democrat Damon Martinez in New Mexico’s 1st District House primary. It spent more than $38,500 opposing two other Democrats in the race, including Debra Haaland, who won the primary.
- Citizens for a Strong America spent nearly $337,800 opposing Republican House candidate Diego Morales in Indiana’s 4th District House race. Morales lost to Indiana state legislator Jim Baird in May, who was also the target of nearly $18,700 in opposition spending by the super PAC.
Progress Tomorrow’s spending in Minnesota and Florida comes just weeks before competitive primaries in both states.
Radinovich, a member of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the Democratic Party, will face four other DFL candidates in the state’s Aug. 14 primary. The winner of the primary will go head-to-head against a GOP candidate in November to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), who is running for lieutenant governor.
Soto, an incumbent Democrat in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, is facing a primary challenge from former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). Florida’s primaries are on Aug. 28.
Jordan joined the Center for Responsive Politics as a summer reporting intern in May 2018. He’s a junior magazine journalism and political science dual major at Syracuse University, where he also works as news editor of the independent student newspaper, The Daily Orange. Jordan was born and raised in California before moving to the East Coast in 2016.