Dan Backer has an anti-Hillary PAC — and says Clinton owes him a heartfelt ‘thank you’

The man behind the Stop Hillary PAC is waiting for his thank-you note on Ready for Hillary stationery.

Last week, Ready for Hillary became a hybrid PAC, the newish tool that allows a political committee to raise and spend unlimited cash to boost or take down a candidate while also giving a limited amount to the candidates themselves. In other words, it’s both a super PAC and a traditional one.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Now pause for this irony. Dan Backer , the treasurer behind the group opposed to a Hillary Rodham Clinton candidacy, is also an activist attorney who happens to be the intellectual architect of hybrid PACs. As the lead counsel on the relevant federal case, he was responsible for getting them legalized. (He was also a top lawyer on this year’s McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court case, which he also won.)

“I did not get a thank you,” Backer told the Loop. “They’re taking advantage of our legal brilliance.”

Backer is the listed treasurer for about 40 PACs, most of them hybrids. Some are legitimate operations, raising real money. Others have accounts of a few thousand dollars. Stop Hillary PAC has raised nearly half a million dollars since last summer. Backer also helps run a Stop Pelosi PAC and a Stop R.E.I.D. PAC, for non-fans of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Those entities, Backer says, are designed to build an army of opposition to the Democrats’ deep political operations.

“Stop Hillary will oppose those candidates and fight against those who will be part of the Hillary network,” Backer said. “And the biggest thing the PAC will do is remind people that Hillary the brand is bulls---.”

So far, Stop Hillary has given $25 each to five federal candidates, an amount too small to show up on its campaign finance reports. Stop Pelosi gave just $250 to Alex Mooney, a GOP congressional candidate in West Virginia, in from the $32,084 it has raised. The R.E.I.D PAC, which Backer says stands for “Stop Reckless Economic Instability caused by Democrats,” raised $3,728 and had not donated to specific campaigns as of the last FEC filing — but Backer said it gave to five candidates in Nevada in April. Most of the money raised by his political committees has been spent on fundraising expenses — spending the money raised to raise more money.

Backer clearly aims to be provocative. He’s accused the pro-Hillary team of criminal activity over its use of a mailing list from Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He said Wednesday that her “primary achievement in life is getting her a-- kicked by Barack Obama.” When he launched Stop Hillary, he released a confrontational Web video, highlighting, of course, Benghazi.

Seth Bringman, spokesman for Ready for Hillary, declined to comment on Backer’s claim that he’s owed thanks. Something tells us that if Backer is racing to the mailbox each day, he’s bound to be disappointed.

Trouble for Norway pick

Two key Senate Democrats have informed the Obama administration that they will oppose the nomination of Chartwell Hotels founder George Tsunis – who bundled or contributed more than $1.3 million for President Obama in 2012 – to be ambassador to Norway.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) told the White House in February that she intended to oppose the nomination. In a statement Wednesday, she cited his performance at a confirmation hearing and concerns from constituents. This week, Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry noting his constituents’ concerns — Minnesota has the country’s largest Norwegian American population — that Tsunis would not be able “to serve effectively.”

“We should not do anything that might unnecessarily damage our strong relationship with Norway,” Franken told Kerry.

Tsunis, grilled by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at a confirmation hearing in January, stumbled badly on a question about anti-immigrant sentiment in Norway. He also referred to Norway’s “president,” when, as a constitutional monarchy, that nation doesn’t have a president. (It does have a border with Russia, however.)

The media in Norway were outraged by Tsunis’s responses at the hearing. The reaction in Minnesota apparently was also strong. With 55 Democratic votes in the Senate, the loss of the Minnesota duo may not be fatal, but it sure can’t be good.

But the State Department is not backing away. “We still support and will continue to work with the Senate,” a senior State Department official told The Loop, “to resolve any outstanding questions and get George confirmed as soon as possible.”

The D-Day delegations

The weather can be iffy in Normandy this time of year, but the forecast now calls for a beautiful day Friday — partly cloudy and highs around 77 — for the 70th anniversary of the landing that began the drive to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

There will be a huge international crowd, with a congressional contingent that will include two World War II veterans — Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Tex.), who was a Navy lieutenant during the war, and Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who was an Army lieutenant. (Since Dingell is retiring and Hall lost his GOP primary last month, there will be no veterans of that war left in the House.)

The nine-member Senate delegation is co-chaired by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and includes Democratic Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), our Capitol Hill colleague Ed O’Keefe tells us. We’ve learned that several spouses are going along.

The House delegation is chaired by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Given that this is a solemn and respectable if not mandatory trip, it’s unclear why our request for a list of House members who were going was initially rejected. Late Wednesday, Pelosi’s office named the Democrats joining her: Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Tex.), Rubén Hinojosa (Tex.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Michael E. Capuano (Mass.), Susan A. Davis (Calif.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) Hank Johnson (Ga.), Carol N. Shea-Porter (N.H.), David Cicilline (R.I.) and Janice Hahn (Calif.).

We’re still awaiting word on GOP attendees.

(Not all members are keeping the secret. Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) told his local newspaper that he’s on the trip.)

We heard they were taking two planes, which, if true, suggests a large crowd. A House source tells us it is a bipartisan group of some 25 members. It’s unclear how many spouses are going.

Both sets of lawmakers are flying Thursday afternoon to Paris. They’ll have four-hour bus rides on gridlocked roads from there to the coast. The senators are returning Saturday. House members are sensibly staying a second night in Paris, returning Sunday.

Live coverage, restored

We reported in Tuesday’s column that Americans might not see live coverage of the D-Day celebrations because of restrictions France imposed on coverage. The Elysee announced Wednesday that “due to the ‘exceptional character’ of the event, the President of the French Republic has requested the French Pool allow agencies to distribute the event,” according to the Associated Press. Crisis averted.

With Colby Itkowitz

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics