Ready for Hillary? ‘Grassroots group’ spending millions building Clinton ’16 base


By M.D. Kittle |

MADISON, Wis. — Even as the Badger State’s general election campaign season heads into the final stretch, a liberal Super PAC wants Wisconsin voters to start thinking about 2016.

And the $10 million question said political action committee is asking is: Are you Ready for Hillary? is committed, as its name would suggest, to urging (more like begging) Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.

The Super PAC calls itself a “grassroots” organization, but it’s got some big left money behind it, not the least of which are big checks from billionaire businessman George Soros, the left’s piggy bank, and his family.

This group isn’t messing around.

HILLARY ARMY: pulled into Madison, Wis., Wednesday looking for Hillary Clinton acolytes and recruiting backers to support Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke in next month’s election. The “grassroots” organization has raised more than $10 million, much of it from very wealthy liberal donors.

Ready for Hillary parked its massive, red, white and blue tour bus — with the words “Join the Movement” painted in bold blue and white — outside Madison’s Kohl Center indoor athletic complex. Volunteers gave away free Hillary posters to a scattering of University of Wisconsin-Madison students who stopped by post-lunch hour.

Some got a chuckle out of the bus’ back side, bearing a large photo of Clinton, smartphone in hand, and urging all who see it, “Don’t text and drive.”

Ready for Hillary’s real public service message is all about building an early base of support to put its namesake in the White House.

Seth Bringman, communications director for the organization, said the Virginia-based PAC has attracted over 3 million supporters. The idea is to build on those numbers up until Clinton makes her decision whether to run. She’s been coy about her presidential aspirations, but has said an announcement will come sometime in 2015.

“Our focus is showing her every single day and organizing every single day and signing up as many people as possible that on day 1. If she decides to run, she’s got millions of people behind her.”

As Bloomberg News’ John McCormick put it earlier this week, Ready for Hillary’s “fundraising prowess has helped create what amounts to the most robust campaign infrastructure of any prospective 2016 candidate, whether Democrat or Republican.”

All of those Hillary posters, pledge cards and bumper stickers — not to mention maintaining the campaign mega bus — add up.

The organization has raised $10,251,013 during the 2014 election cycle, as of the most recent filing deadline on Sept. 30, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The PAC is spending about as fast as it’s raising funds. Ready for Hillary had spent more than $9.46 million as of the most recent filing.

To put it in perspective, these Hillary acolytes are spending about $23,000 a day, or $2 million per quarter, as the Bloomberg News piece noted.

The campaign to draft Clinton already has tapped into some of the major donors to President Obama’s war chest. Ready for Hillary contributors include Hollywood executives, high-priced attorneys, hedge fund magnates and big labor.

Some 75 contributors to the cause have each chipped in the maximum $25,000 individual donation. Nearly half of the contributions come from donors dropping $200 or more.

Asked about the odds Clinton will run in 2016, Bringman said the independent organization of Hillary supporters is not privy to the political plans of the woman who was an als0-ran to Obama in the 2008 Democratic Party delegates chase, before being tapped as Obama’s secretary of state.

Because Ready for Hillary is a Super PAC, it cannot coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. Super PACs, under federal law, may raise and spend unlimited funds on independent expenditures, but they may only do so independent of a candidate.

But Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate just yet, so the laws on coordination in this area are murky.

“Neither the courts nor the FEC have promulgated rules on this issue, either, and so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the rules are on this issue,” one campaign finance insider told Wisconsin Reporter. The same goes for Ben Carson, Chris Christie or several other much-talked-about potential candidates for president.

While Ready for Hillary has one presidential candidate on its mind, the liberal group is devoting some of its resources to help Democrats running in November’s general elections, less than two weeks away.

On Wednesday, the “Join the Movement” bus was encouraging Wisconsin’s Hillary supporters to vote for Mary Burke, the Democrats’ candidate for governor. Burke and incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker are locked in a dead-heat battle, according to the latest numbers from the Marquette Law School poll.

With Wisconsin’s two-week window of in-person absentee voting wide open, the Hillary set was encouraging Badger State voters to vote early, and to prove their commitment by signing a card pledging their vote to Burke.

The Hillaryites are pushing everything from door knocks to poll monitoring in Wisconsin’s election, Bringman said.

“We’re encouraging all of the supporters we have signed up in Wisconsin to volunteer directly with the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, sending out email messages about voting and about volunteering, making sure all of our supporters get involved, get engaged for Mary Burke,” he said.