- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2014

A pair of top Democratic campaign organizations have hit some unexpected bumps in the road on the way to tough midterm elections this fall, including infighting over fundraising and backlash from airing TV ads that have been embarrassingly debunked.

The House Majority PAC, a big-money super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to Congress, has produced TV ads in several congressional races that proved not just misleading but completely “bogus,” according to campaign watchdogs and advocacy groups unwittingly included in the commercials.

At the same time, President Obama’s permanent campaign machine, Organizing for Action, has temporarily suspended its fundraising from large donors until after this year’s elections. The move follows complaints from Democrats that the group’s aggressive money hunt threatened to tap out big-dollar donors that the party desperately needs.

The nonpartisan FactCheck.org stamped the “bogus” label on a House Majority PAC ad in West Virginia that accused Republican candidate Evan Jenkins, a state senator trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, of vowing to repeal black lung disease benefits for coal miners.

The watchdog group also questioned a TV spot by the super PAC in Arizona that heaped praise on Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, calling her an Obamacare whistleblower.

This month, AARP in West Virginia disavowed the super PAC’s use of the AARP logo in another TV ad attacking Mr. Jenkins. The ad suggested that the seniors group opposed the Republican and said he wanted to privatize Social Security.

“AARP had no prior knowledge of, nor authorized, any ad from the House Majority PAC that mentions AARP and uses the AARP logo, and we did not participate in its production,” West Virginia AARP State Director Gaylene Miller said in a statement.

The super PAC used the same tactic early this year in a TV ad against Republican candidate David W. Jolly in a Florida special election for the House. The AARP in that state likewise rebuked the ad.

Mr. Jolly ultimately won the March special election against Democrat Alex Sink to replace the late Republican Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, a contest widely viewed as a bellwether for the midterm elections.

Republican officials say the Democratic super PAC suffers either from incompetence or desperation because Democrats face so many political obstacles this election cycle.

The super PAC was undaunted by the criticism, showing little inclination to back off in the face of independent critique.

“House Majority PAC stands behind the facts in our ads,” said Matt Thornton, communications director for the group. He declined further comment.

Democratic Party operatives formed the super PAC in 2011 after the landslide election in which Republicans took control of the House, in order to compete with outside groups backing GOP candidates and conservative causes.

Separately, Democratic fundraisers celebrated the news that Organizing for Action finally would stop competing with them for big-donor money.

The advocacy group, which transformed from Mr. Obama’s re-election committee into an organization to promote his agenda as president, raised more than $30 million in its first 15 months. With Mr. Obama not on the national ballot this time, the question of how to spend that money has become more urgent.

Funds going to Organizing for Action was money the Democratic Party and other Democratic groups needed to pay off debts from the 2012 elections as well as to prepare for this year’s races.

They will no longer solicit high-dollar contributions at the end of May, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press.

Kathy Gasperine, Organizing for Action development director and former Obama fundraiser, told top contributors in the email that the group would “not be giving significant priority to seeking out new major donors.”

The organization also is scaling back its staff.

It was welcome news to Democratic fundraisers, who found themselves competing with the organization for big donors.

“The number of emails you get asking for money is phenomenal,” Michael Fraioli, a Democratic fundraising consultant, told AP. “This is one less. That’s a good thing.”

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