Politico | by Maggie Haberman | 8|16|12
The super PAC created by one of the Republican Party’s most prominent donors to move candidates toward backing gay marriage is about to invest in its first three House races, POLITICO has learned.
American Unity PAC, launched by Elliott Associates hedge fund executive Paul Singer earlier this summer with a $1 million donation, is poised to advertise in the races being fought by Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.). While none of the three candidates has stated a clear position on gay marriage — only one GOP House member supports it — the group hopes to move the people it backs toward support of it.
A source familiar with the effort said that the group’s aim is to ensure “a counterbalance on the right,” adding that for “the long-term success of the [Republican] party, it must be able to reach gay and lesbian Americans and “the millions of Americans who are related to them.”
The PAC initially decided to enter these three races, the source said, because the incumbents are rank-and-file Republicans with a mixture of economic and tax records the group considers strong, but who also have been solid on specific gay rights issues.
The goal is for the group to spend money to benefit three to seven candidates overall, and this is the initial round. Super PAC support traditionally takes the form of ads.
The group what races to target after examining which GOPers met certain criteria. It picked Republicans that had a shot at winning, as the group hopes to make an impact in the races it gets involved in, as well as chose candidates that have taken “decisive positions” that the group seeks to acknowledge.
The targeted race are competitive, and are places where the cash infusion from American Unity PAC can make a difference.
As for the Republicans stances on gay rights issues, according to documents circulating among American Unity PAC officials, Hanna is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, was a co-sponser of the gay rights bill ENDA, and opposed all four Defense of Marriage Act amendments.
Biggert supported ENDA as well, backed hate crimes legislation and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and opposed three of four DOMA amendments. And Bono Mack favored the DADT repeal, supported hate crimes legislation and also opposed three of four DOMA amendments.
American Unity PAC isn’t saying right now how much it is planning to spend in each of the three races in which it is getting involved. But the next campaign filing is expected to show the group has raised $1.6 million, with other commitments that will be fulfilled.
The major contributors to the PAC, aside from Singer, are financier Cliff Asness, who gave$100,000, Dan Loeb, who gave $250,000, and Seth Klarman, who also gave $250,000. Asness and Loeb played a role in Singer’s efforts to fund the push for New York’s successful gay marriage legislation in 2011.
For Singer, this is a major undertaking for a donor who has become one of the single biggest givers in recent years. The Manhattan Institute chairman’s goal is to move the GOP toward support for same-sex marriage, beginning with his statewide efforts in New York.
In New York, Singer, along with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, provided financial support for the four GOP state senators who voted in favor of same-sex marriage, by hosting fundraisers for them. A concern for Republicans in that fight was facing primaries from the right, and part of what Singer attempted to do was give them some shoring up to help fend off challengers. It’s the same concept here.
This is first move Singer has made at the federal level. Among the goals of American Unity PAC, in terms of how it spends its money, is to offer financial support for candidates who could face a backlash if they speak out for gay marriage.
Singer is also involved in an effort with Loeb, Asness and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman to help fund the pro-gay marriage efforts that are part of state-based ballot initiatives this year.
David Tepper, a hedge fund executive, has also donated to the super PAC, sources said, although the amount wasn’t immediately available.