President Barack Obama has a new, moneyed supporter in this new year — a super PAC dedicated to mobilizing black voters in key swing states.
Calling itself 1911 United, the super PAC is aiming to raise $1.5 million during the election cycle and train its efforts on Colorado, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, committee treasurer Sinclair Skinner told POLITICO.
“He needs a boost,” Skinner said of Obama. “And we want to use all the means possible to support him, including a super PAC. Black political participation is still evolving, and what we hope to do is get as many voters active in the process as early as possible.”
The committee is backed by two large, historically black fraternities, Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi, both of which celebrated their centennials last year.
The 1911 United super PAC will likely work to “organize and deploy” black voters — particularly potential first-time voters — in support of Obama, said Skinner, a long-time Washington, D.C.-based political organizer who’s a mechanical engineer by trade. He notes that the group intends to make significant use of phone banking and social media to achieve this goal.
Broadcast media messages are a possibility, but “we’re really going to focus on working with the people directly,” he said.
Super PACs, formally known as independent expenditure-only committees, may raise and spend unlimited sums of money in support of, or in opposition to political candidates, so long as they don’t directly coordinate with campaigns.
These committees have become major forces in the 2012 presidential election, with numerous super PACs spending millions of dollars to promote and attack Republican presidential candidates in early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Many of them are run by the presidential candidates’ former staffers, and thanks to loopholes in election law, they’ve largely avoided disclosing their funders ahead of early primary and caucus contests.
This is the first presidential election in which super PACs have existed. They sprung into existence following a pair of 2010 federal court decisions, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, which prompted their legality.
To date, Priorities USA Action, run by a pair of Obama’s former White House aides, is the largest super PAC to back the president during his re-election bid. Almost all of its more than $306,000 in expenditures so far this election cycle have gone toward attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.