Political Party/527

Unite the Country

Website:

unitethecountry.com/

Formation:

2019

President:

Steve Schale

Unite the Country PAC is a left-wing “super” political action committee (super PAC) started in 2019 to help support the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden. [1]

Unite the Country was founded after the Biden campaign reversed its position on accepting help from super PACs in October 2019. This reversal came after it was reported that Biden only had $8.98 million on hand, which was much less than his rivals, including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). [2]

Spending

At the end of March 2020, Unite the Country PAC spent $1 million on an ad criticizing President Donald Trump’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. [3] Unite the Country PAC president Steve Schale commented, “The reality is that we are in this mess because he didn’t take the crisis seriously at a time when he needed to.” He added, “this election in November is going to be defined probably largely by how the U.S. responded to the health crisis and how we get out of it economically. It’s an important conversation to have.” [4]

That same month, Unite the Country announced it would work with American Bridge, another prominent left-wing super PAC, to coordinate strategy and fundraising. [5] Together, the groups pledged to raise more than $175 million in support of Biden’s presidential campaign. The joint effort was co-chaired by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D). [6]

On April 15, 2020, the “Biden campaign signaled to donors … that they should direct their money to” Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC created in 2011 for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. In doing so, the Biden campaign “deal[t] a blow to Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC created in October to help his primary bid after he reversed his stance against super PACs getting involved in the race.” [7] In April 2020, Unite the Country raised only $723,000, its worst month of 2020. Of that amount, only one-tenth was received after April 15, the day the Biden campaign’s announcement was made. By contrast, Priorities USA raised $7.6 million in April 2020 and $9.3 million in May 2020. [8]

Unite the Country received $3.5 million in 2020 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a left-of-center 501(c)(4) advocacy group associated with the consultancy Arabella Advisors in Washington, D.C. [9]

The largest single donor to Unite the Country PAC was James Simons, a New York City-based hedge fund executive, who gave $3 million to the super PAC on March 12, 2020. [10]

People

United the Country PAC is headed by Steven Schale, who served as the Florida state director for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. [11] The PAC’s treasurer is Larry Rasky, a D.C.-based lobbyist who worked on Biden’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. Rasky foreign lobbying clients included the government of Azerbaijan, who he advised on strategic communications. [12]

References

  1. Levy, Pema. “The 2020 Election is Now About the Coronavirus. Here’s How Progressive Groups Plan to Win it.” Mother Jones. April 3, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/04/coronavirus-democratic-messaging/ ^
  2. Saenz, Arlette. “Ex-Biden aides lead newly launched super PAC.” CNN. October 30, 2019. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/poalitics/joe-biden-super-pac-unite-the-country/index.html ^
  3. Levy, Pema. “The 2020 Election is Now About the Coronavirus. Here’s How Progressive Groups Plan to Win it.” Mother Jones. April 3, 2020. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/04/coronavirus-democratic-messaging/ ^
  4. O’Keefe, Ed. “Democratic super PAC ads attack Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis.” CBS News. March 25, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/democratic-super-pac-ads-attack-trumps-handling-of-coronavirus-crisis/ ^
  5. Pager, Tyler and Bill Allison. “Biden Campaign Signals It Favors Priorities USA as Super PAC.” Bloomberg News. April 15, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/biden-campaign-signals-it-prefers-priorities-usa-as-super-pac. ^
  6. Martin, Jonathon and Shane Goldmacher. “2 Top Democratic Groups Form Alliance to Support Joe Biden.” New York Times. March 30, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/us/politics/biden-unite-country-american-bridge.html. ^
  7. Pager, Tyler and Bill Allison. “Biden Campaign Signals It Favors Priorities USA as Super PAC.” Bloomberg News. April 15, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/biden-campaign-signals-it-prefers-priorities-usa-as-super-pac. ^
  8. Evers-Hillstrom, Karl. “Biden statement guides donors from one super PAC to another.” Accessed October 19, 2020. OpenSecrets.org. May 20, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2020/05/biden-guides-super-pac-contribs/.[/note]

    Donors

    During the 2020 election cycle, Unite the Country, along with Priorities USA, received a combined $27.9 million from the financial sector. Out of the $150 million Biden has received from the financial sector since 1988, roughly $60 million was put towards his campaign to defeat President Donald Trump in November 2020. [note]Anderson, Colin. “Biden and Harris Have Received $155 Million From Financial Sector.” The Washington Free Beacon. August 17, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://freebeacon.com/2020-election/biden-and-harris-have-received-155-million-from-financial-sector/. ^

  9. Data from FEC. Search criteria: Donations from Sixteen Thirty Fund for the 2019-20 election cycle. Search conducted Sept. 14, 2020. Results here: https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=sixteen+thirty+fund&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  10. Unite the Country. OpenSecrets.org. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cycle=2020&cmte=C00701888 ^
  11. “Fmr. 2008 Obama campaign FL Director breaks down 2020 race in Florida.” MSNBC.com. October 6, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fmr-2008-obama-campaign-fl-director-breaks-down-2020-race-in-florida/vi-BB19LqEf. ^
  12. Meyer, Theodoric and Maggie Severns. “Ex-Biden aide forms Unite the Country super PAC.” Politico. October 29, 2019. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/29/ex-biden-aide-super-pac-unite-the-country-061096. ^
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