In 2010 Republican Linda McMahon outspent Democrat Richard Blumenthal 16-to-1 and lost by more than a 100,000 votes. It was an election year where money didn’t talk and where self-funded candidates like Ned Lamont and Tom Foley lost.
But the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United is still considered a game changer and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s friends don’t want him to be at any disadvantage, if outside corporate interests intent on changing the composition of the U.S. Senate start spending money in Connecticut. It’s also likely Murphy will end up facing a multi-millionaire like McMahon, which seems to be viewed by his supporters as an even bigger threat than any outside SuperPAC would pose.
Daily Newspaper Association Lobbyist Chris VanDeHoef, who helped found the Connecticut’s Future PAC on Murphy’s behalf, said the goal is to raise as much money as they can to get his message out.
“There is real concern in Connecticut, that if gone unchecked, Linda McMahon will buy herself a seat in the United States Senate,“ VanDeHoef said. “CFP is dedicated to making sure Connecticut is represented by someone who understands the struggles of the working men and women in this state and will fight for them in Washington DC.”
VanDeHoef founded the PAC with Kevin Graff, a former Senate Democratic staffer-turned lobbyist, and state Rep. Joseph Taborsak.
Even though individuals and corporations will be able to give unlimited amounts of money to the SuperPAC they will have to disclose their information, VanDeHoef said.
“Unlike other SuperPACs we’re going to be completely transparent,” he said adding that he didn‘t believe that would deter individuals from donating.
The trio enlisted the help of Jeffrey Garfield, who headed the state’s Elections Enforcement Commission, before retiring several years ago to help them out with compliance and disclosure.
The PAC is not allowed to coordinate with Murphy’s campaign on strategy or media purchases.
Murphy has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision which allowed for the proliferation of SuperPACs.
“Citizens United is the worse Supreme Court decision of my lifetime,” Murphy told WNPR’s John Dankosky in April. “What it is doing is cementing the political power of a handful of monied and corporate elite.”
Murphy is no stranger to SuperPACs. In 2010 about 10 days before his re-election a SuperPAC came in and ran television ads attacking him.
During that same radio interview in April, Murphy said even if McMahon is not the candidate he envisioned national SuperPACs coming in to spend on advertsing targeting his candidacy.
“There’s no reason there should be anonymous money in politics today,” Murphy said. “I don’t think the Supreme Court decision protects that.”
Murphy has been able to raise about $5.45 million, which is a little less than McMahon recently loaned her campaign. According to reports filed with the FEC, McMahon loaned her campaign about $6 million during the most recent quarter for a total of about $8.2 million.
Murphy said last week that he spends about five hours per day on the phone raising money when he rather be out on the campaign trail talking to voters. He said McMahon doesn’t have to worry about raising money because she can spend her own money.
McMahon’s campaign was critical of the creation of the PAC.
“This is not surprising from a professional politician like Chris Murphy. This has been set up so he can take money from special interests and fat cat lobbyists,” Tim Murtaugh, McMahon’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
“It’s pretty obvious that the good old boy network will do whatever they can to protect one of their own. Linda’s allegiance is to the people of Connecticut, not a bunch of insiders who will be looking for favors later.”