Pop-up PAC: Dark money pours cash in to help Gross but masks its funding source


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 PACHouse Majority PACWomen Vote!, League of Conservation VotersNextGen 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.

in partnership with Must Read Alaska

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.


  1. Desperate Democrats. Fortunately, the candidate doesn’t appeal beyond the registered Democrats. Big bag of gas, braggidocia, pill doc, liar, (oh, did I mention not handsome?), White liberal privilege. Sullivan has much more appeal. Military service, married to Alaska Native, law degree, political background, incumbency, humble, honest.

  2. I can’t believe there’s not an Alaskan who hasn’t by now been exposed, multiple times, to an Al Gross flyer or ad. Every 15 minutes the annoying “killed a bare” ad pops up on youtube. Seems like”gross” overkill and waste of money to me.

  3. Alan “Cojones” Gross has raised 10 million bucks? That is a ton of moolah. To put it in perspective, In 2016 just over 60% of Alaskans voted in the November election, something like 280,000 votes were cast. Ten million dollars would be about $36 per vote cast. That sum represents a couple of beers and a decent burger at a Sports Bar for every Alaskan voter. Doubtless Alan will blow this money on slick , disgusting advertising bragging up how much of a real Alaskan he, Alan “Cojones” Gross, is.

    These expenditures will only result in wearing out the mute button on Alaskan’s T.V’s. Alan, if you are listening, how about a different approach. Instead of enriching a few media outlets only, how about spreading that outside cash amongst struggling hospitality enterprises? Just announce that you will cover our beer and burger tabs. I am sure that Chuck Schumer would understand.

  4. I know a fellow, a Democrat and largely anti-Republican union member, who had a hip operation done by Gross. He had to have it redone in a southwestern desert state; he says the doctors there could not believe how badly botched the first job had been done. But this fellow is not about to vote for a Republican. Such is the condition of the medical and political landscapes today. Sullivan has done a great job as US Senator for Alaska, and for all this money Gross has the worst that Public Radio and Alaska’s version of the Green New Deal can say about Sullivan is that he supports Trump too much.

  5. Republicans need to report this scandal to APOC immediately. Wait, the Republican Party doesn’t believe in campaign finance reform and therefore gutted APOC. It would be sweet if Sullivan was defeated because Gross had more dark money than he did. And all that outside money is helping our economy.

  6. I had the misfortune of seeing Dr. Gross as a patient years ago when I lived in Juneau. As he couldn’t find an immediate reason for my pain, he asked me, “How are things at home?” I’m certain he never would have said that to a man. If elected, he’ll most likely brush away any “pain” Alaskans might be going through to push forward the leftist agenda he is currently trying to hide.

    • Gross has a huge chip on his shoulder and that is what motivates him, including his plunge into leftie politics. His father left the family, Gross and his mother, for a string of women in state government. So Gross junior soaked the old man, a Chicago attorney who came to Juneau on a Democrat wave, for 12 years of college or more, and now he is running for elected office to prove something to his now late father. The real victims here are all Alaskans, as Gross opposes everything we stand for.

  7. That money would be so much nore valuable to Alaskans if they took it and bought good quality toilet paper and stockpile it around the state so we never run out again. Enough of the Gross Galvin ads already!

  8. Yes I am done with the almost daily flyer in my mailbox from Gross. Good thing is my trash bin is located between the mailbox and the house!

  9. So Dr. liar, opioid prescriber, malpractice, out of stater is supposed to be the best thing for Alaska? LOL. Time to put Al and all of his long tales to rest. He’s not a Doctor anymore for reasons other than wanting to get a Higher degree to support public health. Where did his money come from? Juneau’s opioid problem?

  10. If you don’t like dark money, vote yes on Proposition #2. Otherwise, quit complaining about campaign tactics both sides are using.

    • Proposition 2 is going down in flames because it is the “invention” of liberals like you who want to destroy a system of government and elective process that has worked just fine for almost 250 years. Quit trying to fundementally change what has made Alaska and the country as a whole the most fundementally perfect form of government in the history of mankind.

      • George, please consider your label of “liberal” these leftist are fascists. They embrace political correctness to silence their opposition. Liberals , in the classical sense would never engage in such tactics. Call them, Fascist Progressives.

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