Hollywood Donors Will Help Up the Ante in 2012 Money Race

Jeffrey Katzenberg is among the figures who have provided seed money to launch a new Democratic fund-raising group for the 2012 campaign that will operate outside President Obama’s re-election campaign.

With some Hollywood donors already reaching their limit on how much they can contribute to Obama’s campaign committee, what it means is that their now will be a Hollywood fund-raising effort where they will be allowed to contribute unlimited sums and, if they choose, will not have to have their names disclosed.

In essence, it’s designed to match the effort waged by Karl Rove and others in the 2012 cycle. That org, Crossroads, raised tens of millions to beat Democrats in the midterms. Most controversially is that Crossroads set up separate committees under the tax code and election law — one that discloses donors and one that does not. Obama himself criticized such groups during the midterms, even calling them a “threat to our democracy.”

The Democrats’ orgs, led by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, are called Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, with the former set up as a “social welfare” group in the tax code that will allow it to raise unlimited amounts from donors who do not have to publicly reveal their identities.

The White House was quick to point out that the orgs are being run independently of Obama’s campaign. But in a statement, Sweeney said that the effort will help “level the playing field.”

To put it another way: they may may love the idea of campaign finance reform, but absent that, are they going to just sit back and watch?

Andy Spahn, political consultant for Katzenberg, will be involved in fund-raising efforts for the group. He said their decision to participate was motivated by “concern over the efforts by extreme right wing Republicans like Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers.”

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