While he scrambles to organize New York City's recovery from Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is still finding time to help his favorite congressional candidates around the country through his newly-created super PAC.
The PAC, known as Independence USA, has already spent $1 million on five races, mostly on Internet advertisements and direct mail. But with just one week left to Election Day, the PAC has contracted at least $2.4 million more in TV ads, according to Federal Communications Commission filings aggregated on Political Ad Sleuth. (UPDATE: since this post was first published, many of these ad buys have been reported to the FEC; the PAC's total spending now stands over $6 million.)
Bloomberg's PAC is unique in supporting centrists of both parties running for Congress. When he announced formation of the super PAC on Oct. 17, the mayor and Wall Street billionaire said he planned to spend as much as $15 million on candidates who backed his agenda of legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws and overhauling schools.
So far, that's translated into donations on behalf of two Republicans and three Democrats in competitive House races. But more money is in the pipeline. Documents picked up by Sunlight's Ad Sleuth suggest that Bloomberg is about to begin investing in a contest in the Philadelphia area. (UPDATE: Politicspa.com reports that the ads target David Freed, a Republican who's running for Pennsylvania attorney general. He's earned high marks from the NRA).
Sunlight has been trying to reach representatives of Independence USA to find out more about its spending plans, but it isn't easy: The group doesn't have a web page and a call to the phone number listed on FEC paperwork for treasurer Diane Gubelli yields a recorded message that says it is a "non-working number." We've left a message with the mayor's office and with Bloomberg Philanthropies; we'll update this post if we hear back.
Other pending ad buys in Orlando and Chicago presumably will go to support two congressional candidates who already have enjoyed some of Bloomberg's largesse: Val Demings, a Democrat running in Florida's 10th Congressional District, and freshman Rep. Robert Dold, a Republican running in Illinois' 10th Congressional District.
Other candidates Bloomberg has supported so far: Republican Andrew Roraback, running for an open seat in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District; former Rep. Dan Maffei, a Democrat trying to win back the seat he lost two years ago in New York's 25th Congressional District, and Gloria Negrete McLeod, a Democrat running in California's 35th Congressional District.