WASHINGTON (AP) — Allies of former Vice President Joe Biden formed an outside group this week that would allow wealthy individuals and corporations to spend massive amounts boosting his 2020 Democratic presidential bid.
Leaders of the super PAC called Unite the Country filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Monday indicating that it plans to raise and spend unlimited amounts. The group can legally do so as long as it does not coordinate directly with Biden's campaign.
The Democratic primary has been animated by a rejection of the big money in politics that super PACs represent, and Biden had joined other top contenders in swearing off such groups.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. To speak to the middle class, we need to reject the super PAC system. That's exactly what this campaign is doing," he tweeted in April.
But recently he reversed himself after struggling to raise as much money as other leading contenders in the race. His most recent campaign finance disclosures showed that he spent more than he took in during the quarter that ended in September, leaving him with considerably less cash to spend than his leading competitors — Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — and a fourth contender looking to jump into the top tier, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
While discussions on the formation of such a group have percolated for months, top aide Kate Bedingfield gave Biden's allies a greenlight to move forward last week. The decision comes as Biden is fighting a two-front campaign: one with progressives in his own party who have deemed him insufficiently liberal, and one with President Donald Trump and his allies, who have made unfounded attacks related to Biden's son's business dealings in Ukraine.
"In this time of crisis in our politics, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump," Bedingfield said.
Unite the Country formally announced its leadership on Wednesday. The effort will be run by veteran Democratic strategists Amanda Loveday, a former aide to Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina; Steve Schale, the former Florida director of President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign; and Julianna Smoot, who was deputy campaign manager of Obama's 2012 reelection.
The group's board includes former Biden aides including Mark Doyle and Larry Rasky, who is the head of the lobbying firm Rasky Partners and previously served as a spokesman for Biden's 2008 presidential campaign.
"We know Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat the President, but so does Donald Trump," Schale said in a statement. "We will not sit idly by while Trump spreads lies about a man who has served this country with honor and dignity."