Home>Campaigns>Patrick Kennedy gave $500k to super PAC attacking his wife’s opponent

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) and his first cousin, Caroline Kennedy, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Photo by Will White.

Patrick Kennedy gave $500k to super PAC attacking his wife’s opponent

Kennedy is the only donor to Blue Organizing Project

By David Wildstein, May 28 2020 7:02 pm

A dormant super PAC that spent $75,000 opposing Brigid Callahan Harrison’s campaign for Congress has just one donor: her opponent’s husband.

Former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) contributed $500,000 to Blue Organizing Project on February and remains the super PAC’s sole contributor, records show.

The only campaign Blue Organizing Project has played in so far this year is New Jersey’s 2nd district, where Kennedy’s wife, Amy Kennedy, faces Harrison in the July 7 Democratic primary.

Amy Kennedy was endorsed by End Citizens United, a group that opposes the use of super PACs and dark money in American politics.  She has pledged to not accept corporate PAC money and promised to oppose loopholes in federal campaign finance regulations.

The super PAC reported spent $75,000 on digital advertising in opposition to Harrison, Federal Election Commission reports show.

Will Cunningham, a former chief investigator for the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress in NJ-2, slammed the Kennedys for playing the super PAC game.

“I could not be more disappointed that Amy and Patrick thought circumventing campaign finance regulations was acceptable,” Cunningham told the New Jersey Globe.  “This behavior could not be more antithetical to the notion of free, fair, and transparent elections.”

Prior to Patrick Kennedy’s personal contribution, Blue Organizing Project had just $608 cash-on-hand.

The super PAC is run by Catherine Pasqualoni, a Washington-based political consultant who has worked for the Field Strategies.  That firm is run by Matt Schneider, a veteran Democratic operative who worked for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and has ties to Phil Murphy’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

Blue Organizing Project was formed in 2018 and received funding from the Maryland State Education Association and the SEIU MD/DC State Council American Dream Fund.  Almost all of that money went to a Washington-based consulting firm for canvass operations.

There was no activity by the super PAC from the fall of 2018 until this month’s expenditure in the 2nd district.

The super PAC spent $40,000 on polling services with Targetsmart.  The head of that firm, Tom Bonior, has strong ties to New Jersey Democrats.

Cunningham said that the actions of both Kennedy’s stands in contrast to the goals of End Citizens United and Let America Vote, which has also endorsed Kennedy for Congress.

“Amy is not a progressive and clearly never has been. The Kennedys believed their privilege would not be checked,” Cunningham said. “As the investigator in this race, I intend to check them both come July 7th.”

SB Digital, the Washington firm that handled the anti-Harrison digital campaign, also has ties to New Jersey.  Bret Wask, the firm’s managing partner, began his career in politics working on Jon Corzine’s 2000 U.S. Senate race and is a former Regional Political Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Another SB Digital partner, Sulli Norris-Cole, started out as the digital director for the General Majority PAC, a super PAC.

Editor’s note: The Kennedy campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story at 6:41 PM on Thursday evening.  

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