A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Correct the Record


pg16insertPolitical leanings: Democratic/Pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC

Spending target: Unknown

Correct the Record is a self-proclaimed “strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.” This is the first election cycle that the group has been active as a super PAC.

The Center for Responsive Politics explains that Correct the Record can be classified as a “Carey committee,” also known as a “hybrid PAC.” That means it can “maintain two separate accounts; one for contributions to federal candidates and parties, and the other for independent expenditures, to which unlimited contributions can be made,” according to the center.

David Brock, the creator of the liberal website Media Matters, is the founder of Correct the Record. The PAC had been a project of American Bridge 21st Century, another liberal super PAC, until May 2015, when Correct the Record announced that it was separating from its parent organization to become a stand-alone PAC. Brock announced that Brad Woodhouse, the president of American Bridge, would take a leave of absence from that group to become president of Correct the Record, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, would chair the PAC’s board of directors.

Unlike other independent-expenditure only super PACs, which are prohibited by the Federal Election Commission from coordinating with campaigns or political parties, Correct the Record plans to work closely with the Clinton campaign. That’s because, the group says, it does not plan to spend money to run ads. Instead, the PAC intends to use its website and social media platforms to counter claims made about Clinton.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for Correct the Record, said: “The FEC rules specifically permit some activity — in particular, activity on an organization’s website, in email, and on social media — to be legally coordinated with candidates and political parties. This exception has been relied upon countless times by organizations raising non-federal money. The only thing unique about Correct the Record is that it is making its contributors and expenditures public.”

In July, the New York Times reported that the super PAC would team with Priorities USA Action, another pro-Clinton super PAC, to create a fundraising committee called American Priorities ’16. “Under the agreement, 20 percent of what gets raised through American Priorities ’16, for gifts of up to $1 million, will go to Correct the Record; the remaining 80 percent will go to Priorities USA. For gifts of $1 million or more, $200,000 would go to Correct the Record, and the rest to Priorities USA,” the Times wrote.

Correct the Record was one of the two largest “Carey committees,” in terms of fundraising, in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The super PAC raised over $1.4 million from 13 large donors and spent nearly $334,000 as of the end of June 2015, according to its mid-year filing with the FEC. (All of its FEC filings can be found here.)

Some of the PAC’s biggest donors this election cycle include former San Francisco Symphony President John D. Goldman and his wife, Marcia, who together contributed $250,000. Patricia Stryker, a billionaire philanthropist in Colorado, also gave $250,000. Barbara Lee, who founded the Barbara Lee Family Foundation to advance “women’s equality and representation” in politics and the arts, donated $150,000. And the super PAC Hillary for America gave more than $275,000.

Although Correct the Record was created to defend Clinton against negative media, it has also resorted to making attacks against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination for president. In September, the Huffington Post reported that the super PAC sent an email attempting to link Sanders to more controversial remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn, the United Kingdom’s new Labour Party leader. Sanders was reportedly able to use the negative attack to raise over $1.2 million in support of his campaign.