Outside dark money super PACS tied to Sen. Chuck Schumer are flooding Alaska this week in the hope of flipping Alaska’s Senate seat blue and sending Al Gross, the Democrat party’s nominee, to Washington.
According to Politico, Schumer and Senate Democrat funders are washing money through a brand new group called North Star, which revealed itself earlier this week and started airing ads on Thursday. The ad currently running hits Sen. Dan Sullivan on health care isues.
The group’s website leaves more questions than answers as there is no contact information or description of what North Star is or who is behind it. The only way a curious person can determine what the group is about is by tracking the ad buys on radio and TV, and then tracing which agency placed the ads.
At this point, the new infusion of cash from Schumer’s group means Al Gross’ campaign is benefiting from at least $10 million in Outside dark money.
The group is using local legislative staffer Ryan Johnston, who works for Rep. Neal Foster, as its local treasurer and “keeper of records.” Jim Lottsfeldt, a Portland political operative who runs the Midnight Sun AK blog, ran a super PAC in 2014 for Mark Begich that had all of the same connections as the North Star group, and is believed to be connected to this new group as well, but it won’t be known until after the election.
According to North Star’s filing with the Federal Election Commission, the group has already booked $4 million in advertising for the last weeks of the campaign season. Many Alaskans say they are sick of seeing Al Gross ads, but it looks like there are more coming their way.
“The amount made it the largest spender on television in the race,” Politico wrote.
North Star is tied to national Democrats through its media buyer, Waterfront Strategies.
“Since its first election cycle on record in 2012, Waterfront Strategies has become the top vendor for Democratic PACs, labor unions, and left-of-center nonprofits, spending $206,003,697 in the 2018 election cycle. Senate Majority PAC, House Majority PAC, Women Vote!, League of Conservation Voters, NextGen Climate Action, and the government worker labor union AFSCME are among Waterfront Strategies’ top clients,” according to Influence Watch.
Waterfront Strategies utilizes late-cycle “pop-up PACs,” which are super PACS that form up late in the election season and spend money during the last few weeks, allowing them to avoid disclosing their donors until after the elections are over.
“In 2014, Waterfront Strategies received nearly all the campaign funds from Put Alaska First, a super PAC for ads supporting Sen. Mark Begich in his reelection bid against Republican opponent Dan Sullivan. Campaign finance filings revealed that the super PAC received most of its funding from the from the national Democratic group, Senate Majority PAC,” Influence Watch wrote.
The dark money group is using D.C.-based Amalgamated Bank, which is also used by various Democratic organizations.
“The filing also lists a website that has no contact information or specifics about the group, just a picture of mountains and one sentence: ‘Alaska needs a senator who knows Alaska and puts Alaskans first,'” according to Politico.
“Alaska has now seen a surprising amount of outside investment as polling indicates the race remains highly competitive,” Politico noted. “314 Action, a group that backs Democratic candidates with science backgrounds, has spent $1.5 million so far backing Gross, an orthopedic surgeon with a masters in public health.”
In Anchorage, political operatives from outside the state are now pouring in and will be going door-to-door for the Gross campaign. These operatives are working out of hotels in Anchorage, Must Read Alaska has learned, as they swarm the state to get out the Democratic vote.
To support Sullivan, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by allies of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has spent less than $1 million in the race.
Gross has spent $2.5 million, according to Advertising Analytics, compared to $1.6 million for Sullivan, the political blog wrote. More spending is likely coming: Gross’ campaign announced Wednesday he raised $9 million in the third quarter of this year, according to Politico.