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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Priorities USA Action

pg16insertPolitical leanings: Democratic/Pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC

Spending target: Unknown

Priorities USA Action is a super PAC that was formed in 2011 by ex-White House staffers Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney to help re-elect President Obama in 2012. It is now supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as was announced back in 2014.

Priorities USA Action is led by Guy Cecil, who was political director of Clinton’s 2008 campaign, and now serves as chief strategist and co-chair of the super PAC’s board of directors. Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, are also board co-chairpersons. Anne Caprara, formerly vice president of campaigns at EMILY’S List, is the PAC’s executive director, and Paula Begala, a Democratic consultant and CNN political contributor, is a senior adviser. 

As a super PAC, Priorities USA Action is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money, but is required to disclose its donors. Priorities USA, also formed in 2011, was the super PAC’s affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that could raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosing its donors. But Justin Barasky, communications director for the super PAC, told us in an email that the nonprofit is no longer active.

In July, the New York Times reported that the super PAC, Action, would team with Correct the Record, another pro-Clinton super PAC, to create a fundraising committee called American Priorities ’16. Under the agreement, Correct the Record will receive 20 percent of the funds raised by the joint committee (for donations up to $1 million) and 80 percent of those funds will go to Priorities USA Action. As for donations of $1 million or more, $200,000 of those funds will go to Correct the Record and the remainder to Priorities.

According to its mid-year filing with the Federal Election Commission on July 31, Priorities USA Action has raised over $15.6 million and spent just under $1.5 million in the 2016 cycle. It recently announced that it raised another $25 million in the last six months of 2015 and $10 million in the first month of 2016, bringing the total fundraising haul to more than $50 million.

The group didn’t spend any money on independent expenditures during the 2014 election cycle, but has spent about $440,000 on ads for 2016, with the majority ($382,000) on pro-Clinton TV spots. Another $58,000 has been spent on ads attacking Republican candidates, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of these funds have gone to ads attacking Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.

Some notable donors to Priorities USA Action this cycle include Saban Entertainment founder Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, Paloma Partners founder Donald Sussman, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, film director Steven Spielberg, and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. They each donated $1 million. The super PAC has also received large sums from other political action committees including $2 million from Fair Share Action and $1.5 million from the Plumbers/Pipefitters Union.

Barasky declined to say whether Priorities USA Action has a spending target for the cycle. “We plan to raise the resources necessary to help ensure Hillary Clinton becomes the next president and are on target to do so,” he wrote.

Fact-checking Priorities USA Action

Ad Suggests Trump Loves Nuclear War, June 21, 2016