Allies of Hillary Clinton plan an expensive, stealth campaign to buttress her standing in the must-win states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
They're canvassing Clinton donors for pledges of up to $100,000 in the hope of raising at least $10M by the end of next week. The money will be placed in the account of a political committee organized under section 527 of the tax code.
A Democrat who was briefed on the project said that Pennsylvania attorney William A. K. Titelman is leading the effort to solicit money. Titleman, who raised money for Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign, has not contributed money to Clinton. He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
By law, the 527 cannot coordinate its activities with the Clinton campaign, although at least one major Clinton donor with direct ties to the campaign said last night that the effort was an open secret among donors.
(Update: Per ABC's Jake Tapper, the group is calling itself the "American Leadership Project" and is staffed by several veterans of the Clinton White House.)
A Clinton spokesman said he knew nothing about the 527.
Two Democrats said that the 527 plans to run television ads and send pro-Clinton literature in all three states. One of the Democrats said that the ads will also include contrast messages against Obama.
Plans for the 527 were conceived in late January, when Clinton's campaign was nearly broke. Since Feb. 5, she has raised nearly $20M, but still faces a resource disadvantage. Obama's aides said they're approaching their goal of raising money from 500,000 new donors since Jan. 1 and project a total haul of more than $35M for February.
Perhaps as early as today, a consortium of Service Employees union locals will disclose its own plans for mobilization in Ohio and Pennsylvania on behalf of Barack Obama, an irony that will not be lost on those covering the race closely: a similar SEIU compact in Iowa ran ads praising John Edwards and drew strong protests from Obama's campaign.
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