Former Obama aides plan to raise at least $100 million to influence the 2012 campaign

Holly Bailey

Two former White House aides are planning to raise at least $100 million to fund an outside political group to defend President Obama against attacks during the 2012 campaign.

As The Ticket reported last week, Bill Burton, a former deputy press secretary to Obama, and Sean Sweeney, a former top aide to ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are planning to launch a 527 political committee in coming weeks modeled after the so-called "shadow GOP" groups that spent millions to influence the 2010 campaign.

According to the Center for Public Integrity's Peter Stone, Burton and Sweeney have told Democratic donors they plan to raise between $100 million and $200 million for their group, which doesn't yet have a name.

The group is being billed to donors as "the main Democratic vehicle" to compete with the network of GOP independent groups, including American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, committees linked to former Bush advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.

According to Stone, Burton and Sweeney have recruited a third former administration official for the effort—former Commerce Department lawyer Teddy Johnson, who was a fundraiser for Obama in 2008. The trio has been soliciting cash from top Democratic donors in recent weeks.

The former Obama aides are still reportedly trying to decide whether to organize their group as a non-profit that must disclose its donors or if the group will model itself after the Crossroads groups—one of which discloses donors, while the other does not.

Either way, the group is bound to come under criticism, given Obama's outspoken statements against outside groups spending big cash to influence political campaigns.

(Photo of Burton: Charles Dharapak/AP)