Soros, SEIU $$ push Barack ahead

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Democrat unlikely to forget the collectivists who made him President

As the presidential election nears, parties and outside groups are dumping more of their own money into commercials and other campaign activities that increasingly favor Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain .

Since it became clear in early June that the two senators would face off in the general election, national party committees, unions and other interest groups have spent $31.3 million on independent expenditures to influence the presidential election, according to a CQ MoneyLine analysis of Federal Election Commission data. During that time, outside groups dropped $18.1 million in support of Obama, while others supporting McCain ponied up $13.2 million.

McCain held a distinct advantage over Obama during June and July. But the latest FEC filings for September show that 75 percent of the outside spending in support of the two candidates now favors Obama. So far this month, $7.6 million has been spent in behalf of Obama, while $2.4 million has gone to promote McCain.

Most of the Obama gain can be attributed to a stepped effort by pro-Democratic groups, particularly the Service Employees International Union. Since June, SEIU has spent $9.6 million in support of Obama’s campaign. The union spent $4.3 million this month alone.

These independent expenditures — which are not coordinated with the campaigns — are separate from the millions also being spent by outside groups, including nonprofits and 527 groups, on so-called “issue ads” that don’t specifically advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, but still can have a big impact on a campaign.

“PACs and party committees,” said Steve Weissman, associate director for policy at the Campaign Finance Institute, “are only a part of the universe of groups that are opposing or supporting Obama and McCain.”

In addition to SEIU, the groups that have spent the most on presidential independent expenditures since early June include MoveOn.org and the Republican National Committee. The RNC has shelled out $5.8 million in support of McCain while MoveOn.org has invested $3.6 million in Obama.

“Our members are very excited about electing Barack Obama ,” said SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette. “We’re really at a crisis point with the economy crashing, flat wages and jobs (not) growing . . . At the end of the day, the next president is going to make it or break it for working families in this country.”

The service employee funds spent on independent expenditures are part of the union’s $85 million commitment to electing Obama, as well as pro-labor candidates. The union has spent a large amount so far, but still has more than $21 million in the bank ready to go if needed.

That’s great news for Obama because the Democratic National Committee has made very few independent expenditures on his behalf — only $467,000. At the end of August, the DNC still had $17.7 million in the bank but the RNC was sitting on a bankroll of $76.5 million.

Approximately half the independent expenditures related to the presidential race has been pumped into an ongoing TV, radio, Internet and print advertising war supporting Obama or McCain. But large amounts have been spent as well to help fund their ground campaigns, including get-out-the-vote drives and publicity efforts. The outside groups and parties spent $6.9 million voter canvassing and $3 million on phone calls, mailings and e-mail pushes. They even dropped $2.7 million on T-shirts, campaign buttons and bumper stickers.


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