Mar 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Pro-Biden group won’t disclose donors

 Stephanie Cutter participates in a panel discussion

Stephanie Cutter participates in a panel discussion in Washington on October 24, 2013 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A Pro-Biden group, operating with the White House's blessing, plans to raise unlimited funds — and grant donors anonymity — as it prepares to promote and protect the president's agenda from the outside.

Why it matters: By not capping anonymous contributions, the group, called Building Back Together, will have an easier time raising money, ahead of its anticipated launch next month to defend Biden's policies, including his $1.9 trillion relief package.

  • “We will work collaboratively with existing groups who are working toward those same goals,” read a statement from the organization.
  • “We will also leave it up to individual donors on whether to publicly release their donations.”
  • The group, which will be organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, will impose some fundraising limits: It will not accept contributions from corporations, registered lobbyists, or the oil and gas industry.

The big picture: The outside group is, in part, a facsimile of an earlier Democratic organization, The Common Purpose Project, that was created by allies of President Obama to coordinate the progressive movement early in Obama's term.

  • However, Building Back Together differs from the Obama model in one crucial aspect: That group capped contributions at $50,000 and disclosed their names.
  • But allies of President Trump didn't abide by those conventions when they established their groups four years ago, and raised unlimited funds from anonymous donors.
  • Democrats took note.
  • “We are playing by the rules of today's system, and will hold ourselves to the same standard as many other outside groups working to impact the direction of this country,” according to the statement.

Go deeper: The White House won’t have operational control over the new group, which will do some paid media, both in digital and broadcast, as it tries to define the terms of the debate over Biden's policies.

  • “It has a very specific lane and a very specific role and cannot do the work that the state parties do and can’t coordinate with the state parties,” White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon told the Wall Street Journal last month, which first reported on the group.

Between the lines: Building Back Together will be staffed by former Biden campaign aides and longtime Democratic strategists.

  • Danielle Melfi, the Biden campaign’s Wisconsin state director, will serve as executive director.
  • Stephanie Cutter, who co-founded Precision Strategies with O'Malley Dillon, has played a key role.
  • Patrick Bonsignore, who ran paid media for Biden and Matt Barreto, one of Biden’s pollsters, will also be involved.
  • Addisu Demissie, who helped produce the Democratic National Convention with Cutter, is also part of the team.

Be Smart: Democrats are willing to weather criticism for ditching some of Obama's transparency standards to ensure their party keeps the White House.

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