Susie Tompkins Buell, a San Francisco philanthropist and co-founder of the Esprit clothing line, and Steve and Amber Mostyn, Houston trial lawyers who helped bankroll a pro-Obama super PAC last year, are leading the fundraising efforts Ready for Hillary.
The pro-Clinton super PAC launched its National Finance Council on Tuesday and named Buell and the Mostyns founding members. Ready for Hillary, begun earlier this year by Clinton supporters, is urging the former secretary of state and first lady to run for president in 2016, and is trying to assemble a grassroots coalition on her behalf.
“Ready for Hillary is the wisest investment right now for anyone who wants Hillary Clinton to be the next president,” Buell said in a statement. “Its founders are innovative and dedicated; they are building a massive grassroots movement of Hillary supporters across all 50 states to show Hillary how ready the nation is for her to be president.”
Republicans quickly criticized Ready for Hillary’s announcement about Buell. America Rising, a GOP super PAC that specializes in opposition research, labeled Buell a “sweatshop magnate” because of a federal raid on Espirit’s manufacturing operations in the 1990s.
Amber Mostyn said in a statement that the group plans to help organize “a grassroots army for Hillary” to make her the first woman president.
“President Obama demonstrated that Democrats win the presidency by organizing early, harnessing the energy of everyday Americans and maximizing the use of social media,” Mostyn said. Her husband, Steve, added, “Hillary is the best candidate to build on the progress President Obama has made.”
The McLean-based political action committee has hired Craig T. Smith, who served as political director in the Clinton White House, in a senior leadership role, as well as Seth Bringman, a Democratic operative in Ohio and former aide on Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Harold Ickes and James Carville, former advisers to President Clinton, have been helping Ready for Hillary raise money and get off the ground. The group said it already has raised money from 3,000 donors.
Buell -- an environmentalist who has donated millions of dollars to Democratic politicians, including the presidential campaigns of Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton – made waves last year when she told the San Francisco Chronicle she was boycotting Obama’s reelection campaign fundraisers because she did not think he demonstrated enough leadership on climate change.
“I thought that he really did understand ‘the urgency of now’ on climate change,” Buell told the Chronicle. “He has not been vocal enough… and I want to encourage him to lead me.”
The Mostyns, meanwhile, have donated millions of dollars to Democratic causes, including $3 million to Priorities USA. They were among the biggest donors to the pro-Obama super PAC, which aired devastating television advertisements in swing states last year attacking Republican Mitt Romney’s business career.
Their support for Ready for Hillary indicates that Clinton may be able to expand her financial network from 2008 to include some of Obama's biggest and most loyal benefactors.
This post has been updated.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the involvement of Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm. Malcolm wrote a testimonial praising Clinton for Ready for Hillary, which the super PAC is using to solicit funds on its Web site, but Malcolm is not actively raising money for the group.