Posted: 4:28 pm Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

On Super PACs, ‘firewalls,’ Nick Ayers and David Perdue 

By Daniel Malloy

The OpenSecrets Blog is out this week with a winding tale of dark money, consultants and the Georgia U.S. Senate race.

The article from the follow-the-money nonprofit website looks particularly at Nick Ayers, the wunderkind who helped Sonny Perdue to his gubernatorial victories. Ayers went on to be the executive director to the Republican Governors Association and into the GOP consulting world, with a stint working for Tim Pawlenty’s brief presidential campaign.

Ayers is an adviser to Citizens for Working America, the PAC that attacked Jack Kingston during the Senate primary and runoff, accusing him of being the “King of Earmarks” and hinting that his vote was “for sale” to accused straw donor Khalid Satary. It also has run positive spots for David Perdue, the businessman and first cousin of Sonny.

Ayers, whose wife is Sonny Perdue’s second cousin, also works for Target Enterprises, a GOP media firm that took in $2.9 million from the David Perdue campaign for media buys.

Under campaign finance law, campaigns cannot coordinate with such outside groups. The Ayers tie, CRP writes, “raises the question of whether there was illegal coordination between the Perdue campaign and the groups.”

Ayers answered the question with a “nope”:

“As I worked with outside groups in Georgia this cycle, a firewall was put in place at Target Enterprises that prevented coordination with the Perdue campaign, which is common practice in the industry.”

“Firewalls” have become commonplace as a small network of firms take in overlapping business in the new Super PAC landscape. The Washington Post explained the issue, with examples from Democrats and Republicans, in 2012.

The OpenSecrets piece also delves into the origins and past work of the various entities working on Perdue’s behalf.  South Carolina-based Citizens for a Working America has to disclose its donors, but it gets nearly all its money from Ohio-based nonprofits Jobs & Progress Fund and Government Integrity Fund, which don’t disclose their donors.

OpenSecrets draws a parallel between Georgia and Illinois. Jobs & Progress Fund also was involved in the Illinois governor’s race, which shares some similarities with this race in that Chicago billionaire Bruce Rauner captured the Republican nomination with a self-funded outsider campaign.

Jobs & Progress Fund helped clear the way with early attacks on Rep. Aaron Schock as he was considering a run.  Ayers consulted for the Rauner campaign, but there is no documented link between Jobs & Progress Fund and Target Enterprises at the time of the Schock attacks.

Here’s the article’s taxonomy of all the groups involved:

Jobs & Progress Fund: The Jobs & Progress Fund was founded in March of 2011, incorporated by David Langdon under the name of Ohio First for a Better Government. In Dec. 2012, Langdon filed to change its name to Jobs & Progress Fund.

According to the only 990 tax form filed by the group, there are three members of its board of directors: Langdon, attorney Mark Miller and Columbus lobbyist Tom Norris.

Government Integrity Fund: Like Jobs & Progress, the Government Integrity Fund was founded in 2011 and has three board members. Norris — also on the board of Jobs & Progress –  is listed as the executive director/president. According to tax forms and incorporation records, the nonprofit is based at a home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, that real estate records indicate is linked to Norris. In recent TV ad buy contracts executed through Target Enterprises, the group’s address is listed as an office in downtown Columbus. …

Citizens for a Working America, Inc: Tax filings show this 501(c)(4) nonprofit was founded in 2010, using the Columbus address of Ohio political operative Jim Nathanson. Nathanson was a founding board member of Jobs & Progress Fund, but left the group in 2012. The current chairman is Norman Cummings, a South Carolina operative who got his start in Ohio. Recent documents place Citizens for a Working America in South Carolina.

Citizens for a Working America PAC: Legally a separate entity from the nonprofit, the super PAC shares the same address. It identifies David Langdon as its treasurer and refers all FEC inquiries to him.

Citizens for a Working America super PAC has been active since 2010, when it received two major donations, one from its sister organization, the nonprofit, and the other from a 501(c)(4) group called New Models, Inc.. That year, it targeted Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), with attack ads; he lost his re-election bid. In 2012, it once again received money from the same two organizations, but it also got checks from a slew of mining and energy companies. It targeted President Obama and intervened in races in Indiana and Kentucky, backing the eventual Republican winners.

So far in 2014, the super PAC has received funds only from Jobs & Progress, Government Integrity Fund and one other small donor, and paid for ads attacking Kingston and backing Perdue.

17 comments
Charles50
Charles50

Corporations are people is all I can think of when trying to understand all of the nuances of this mess.  All I can say is, I hope the Dems are doing the same thing.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

in other words Perdue is another multi-millionaire hustler who is buying this Senate seat to enrich a bunch of anonymous donors.


This is exactly why capitalism and democracy don't mix.


Unfortunately for Georgians, conservatives will show up to vote for a plutocrat en masse.  I wonder if they believe in trickle-down politics?  If you concentrate power in the hands of the wealthy it will trickle down and empower the middle and lower classes.


Way to go GA GOP voters.  Given Perdue's record in business I wouldn't be surprised if he downsized voters and outsourced his Senate seat to China (and yes, it is his seat now...he will have the (R) next to his name in November and is both a necessary and sufficient condition for winning statewide elective office in states like Georgia).


LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

SCOTUS has ruled that when it comes to politics, money is speech and corporations are people.

I think it's safe to say that SCOTUS never heard my great-uncle Jedidiah's excellent advice:

"Never drop a lit match into the outhouse pit."

honested
honested

I mentioned the other day why we need to get both Senatorial Candidates on record as to whether they will support a Constitutional Amendment to correct the errors caused by Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Are there any wrong wingers out there who really believe that the slow slide through the cesspool to "one dollar=one vote" is the manner in which American Electoral business needs to be done?

Rather than concentrate on strawman, dog-whistle issues, can we focus on something really important?

AvailableName
AvailableName

I'm sure that this Georgia Ayers fellow never walked down the hall and broke down that firewall.  That would violate the law and be dishonest!  Relatives on left of him, PACs on the right, stuck in the middle with all that money for him.  That Michelle Nunn woman on the other hand, she's probably met that Chicago Ayers fellow.  Totally different scenario, you know they're up to no good, they're Democrats, Progressives and worse!

NWGAL
NWGAL

If a billionaire wants to donate vast sums without anyone knowing, the shell game works.

TracySample
TracySample

@Charles50 Michelle Nunn proposed the People' s Pledge to Perdue, but I don't think he's accepted her offer. I encourage you to get involved. www.peoplespledge2014.org 

TracySample
TracySample

@honested See the People's Pledge. It is a start in the right direction. Michelle Nunn, for example,  proposed the pledge. By all appearances, Perdue has not accepted. We need to turn up the heat and him other politicians who refuse to run a race chiefly on their merit and free from dark money. 

td1234
td1234

@honested There is not a need for a Constitutional Amendment. All that needs to happen is transparency. All donations should be listed before the money can be spent with the names of the person, address and where they work. 

honested
honested

@AvailableName 

Worse?

Because they believe in the rights of Citizens?

But hey, I wish Van Jones had gotten his Cabinet appointment approved, because politics has two sides, LEFT and wrong.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

@td1234 @honested Wouldn't work imho. You would pay attention and so would I. But for the most part it would end up like the legal notices in the back of county papers -unread and ignored.

There's something seriously wrong with our republic when congress critters spend 70 or 80% of their time raising money.

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Transparency.

You mean like mcconnell was for, before he was against?

Remember, back years ago when you were sitting on nut getrich's knee and McCain-Feingold was becoming law, mcconnell stated "This is not necessary, all we need is transparent disclosure of the identity and source of all donations".

Fast forward to today, and the same wrong-wing-liar-minority-leader-of-the-Senate says "Transparency is a burden on free speech".

You can't have it both ways.

td1234
td1234

@CherokeeCounty And as you stated with the legal notice reference. Most money spent in political campaigns is overkill because most people do not pay attention. 

td1234
td1234

@honested I feel the same as the hypocrisy of the Democratic leadership. Obama is the first President to refuse Federal matching funds and raised how much money? 

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

What part of Campaign Finance Law is under the control of the President?

To fix this requires cooperation between the children in the House and money sponges in the Senate.

Since cutting the availability of dark money most likely shaves off conserrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrvatives, how much action do you predict on fixing the problem?