aShortChronicle has posted extensive coverage of the outside spending impacting local races this election cycle. Now, with election day upon us, some totals are in hand.
After Monday's filing deadline, we've identified $3,568,530 in what would be classified as direct campaign related expenditures (media buys, mailings, canvassing) from a single network of left leaning advocacy groups supporting Democratic Party candidates this election cycle. Tens of thousands more in legal fees and other costs are also reported in their filings.
The network includes the following groups:
NC Families First, NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools, A Better NC, Real Facts NC, Common Sense Matters, and Make NC First. As mentioned in this previous post, all of these entities are connected through Raleigh Attorney, Michael Weisel.
If Weisel's name sounds familiar, it might be from reading these other articles in local media. WFAE did a piece quoting him as representing NC Families First on the group's commercial against Bob Edmunds for the NC Supreme Court. Weisel was also quoted in this WBTV report on Planned Parenthood posing as an anti toll group. In the WBTV report, Weisel was representing NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools.
This Planned Parenthood situation provides a great example of how the money flows.
The Planned Parenthood affiliated organization Community Organizing Group was working with a subsidiary of NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools called "Aim Higher Now" to hand out some door hangers. NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools is a major funder of NC Families First sending them over $1.4 million this election cycle. NC Families First in turn sent $485,000 to Planned Parenthood Action PAC NC for canvassing. The WBTV report states Planned Parenthood Action as working with Community Organizing Group on the canvasing operation.
One can easily draw the connections between NC Citizens for Protecting Our Schools and the Planned Parenthood canvasing operation. With one hand the "Citizens" group is paying for the canvasing via money given to NC Families First, and with the other hand they are paying for the canvasing materials. Ultimately, the money all flows to this operation from the same place, but it looks like multiple organizations working independently.
In reality, it's just part of a larger plan.
Another part of the plan is targeting NC House seats directly including NC98 and NC92.
According to NC Board of Elections data, NC Families First has hit NC98 Rep John Bradford with $164,849 in attack ads this cycle. NC92 Republican Danae Caulfield has been hit by $66,471 from the group.
$231,320 spent on attack ads for 2 NC House seats in Mecklenburg county!!!
Further research shows this to be part of a wider effort by NC Families First to flood Mecklenburg and Wake counties with attack ads against Republicans.
The below list matches the list of "Competitive Races to Watch" from Real Facts NC - one of the affiliated groups in this network.
The Republicans highlighted in bold match the targets of NC Families First based on their campaign reports at NCSBE.gov. One can guess that is likely not an accident. From the analysis completed so far, John Bradford in NC98 appears to be the group's #1 target based on money spent.
With Mecklenburg County and Lake Norman in particular being one of the central battlegrounds for the NC House this election cycle, the money and organization behind this collection of 527 and 501c4 organizations has gone a long way towards what's been happening here locally.
Will it be successful? We will know in less than a week.