Democratic ‘super PACs’ raise big cash to aid Obama’s re-election effort

Holly Bailey

A Democratic political committee founded by two former White House aides to boost President Obama's re-election bid raised $3.2 million in May and June from a small group of well-heeled donors.

According to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission Sunday, Priorities USA Action raised more than half of its cash with a single $2 million donation from Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The contribution solidifies Katzenberg's position as one of Obama's key Hollywood supporters heading into 2012. Last month, the Obama campaign listed Katzenberg as one the president's top bundlers, having raised more than $500,000 for Obama's re-election effort between April and June. In April, Katzenberg hosted Obama at a Los Angeles fundraiser, where the cost of admission ranged as high as $35,800 a person.

But he's not the only prominent Obama donor to support Priorities USA.

According to the group's FEC report, the committee accepted a $500,000 check from Fred Eychaner, a Chicago media mogul and philanthropist who has raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the Obama campaign.

The committee also raised $500,000 from SEIU COPE, the political arm of the Service Employees International Union.

According to Priority USA Action's FEC filing, just 25 donors contributed to the group, which was launched in April by former Obama spokesman Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, a former aide to ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The group is aiming to raise $100 million to defend Obama's re-election bid, mostly in unlimited, unregulated contributions.

But they aren't the only ones raising cash to defend Obama against an expected GOP onslaught of cash in the upcoming election. A second Democratic "super PAC," American Bridge, reported raising nearly $1.6 million during the first half of the year.

The group, which was founded by activist David Brock, lists several familiar names in Democratic fundraising on its donor list. Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, contributed $200,000; Hollywood producer Steve Bing contributed $150,000; and two top unions, SEIU and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSME), contributed $100,000 apiece.

Another notable contributor: director J.J. Abrams, best known as the creator of "Lost," donated $37,500 to the committee.