Another week, another strong Republican bias to Mayday PAC ad spending, this week including a can't-lose North Carolina Republican incumbent (see text).
is internet sensation Lawrence Lessig's latest quixotic effort to drive Big Dark Money from American politics. It intends to fight fire with fire by using liberal-donated PAC money to promote congressional candidates (Republican and Democratic alike) who say something nice about the notion of campaign finance reform.
Perhaps reflective of the disappointing financial realities it now faces, FEC-reported ad spending by the PAC to end all PACs was positively muted last week: just $50,500 in support of Jim Rubens' [R; NH-Sen] primary campaign against fellow Republican Scott Brown. Mayday's cash register isn't nearly as full as we, and it, once expected it to be by this point (more on that below the fold), so some quiet time to reflect on how to spend its money wisely was certainly in order.
I. Catching Up
FEC records of SuperPACs' independent expenditures sometimes appear online out of temporal order, so I have a bit of catching up to do to fill you in on past Mayday ad buys that I have not reported in previous weeks' editions of this diary.
Firstly, on a minor (but curious) note: back on August 13th Mayday posted a tiny $2,500 online ad buy (no, that's not missing any zeros) opposing Scott Brown [R; NH-Sen]...and thus supporting the PAC's endorsee, Jim Rubens. That mini-buy was little Mayday's first experiment in negative advertising. The same week also saw an additional $150,000 in previously unreported pro-Rubens ad buys
This tweet-of-the-week puts things rather succinctly:
August 26th also saw a previously unreported $83,000 ad buy in support of the shoo-in ten-term North Carolina incumbent, Walter Jones [R; NC-03]. Running, as Jones is, in an overwhelmingly Republican district, enjoying the advantages of long incumbency, and facing an unarmed Democratic opponent (with just $3,000 in his campaign war chest at last report), Jones needs Mayday's money like a fish needs a bicycle. Plus, with his highly lucrative seat on the House Financial Services committee, Jones routinely taps into millions of dollars from a baker's dozen of banking industry PACs
. It seems reasonable to wonder whether Jones has even noticed Mayday's endorsement yet.
II. Totals to Date
From inception through Sept. 3rd, Mayday's independent ad spending totals $1.04 million, divided as follows:
Advantage: Republicans 71% (up from 60% Advantage Republicans last week)
The take-away here is that Mayday has consistently diverted its liberal Democratic donors' money primarily to conservative Republican candidates every week since it first began spending money like a very small drunken sailor.
III. Mayday's Finances
In the halcyon days of its youth (July), Mayday's founder and chairman, Lawrence Lessig, let it be known that between online grassroots donations and matching funds from its megadonors Mayday would be a $12 million force in the 2014 cycle. But subsequent reality has proven less kind: as previously reported, matching donors having been dragging their feet honoring their pledges, online donations have slowed dramatically (see below), and as of August 20th Mayday reported to the FEC cash on hand of just $4.8 million. Failing some miracle, today's five current and three prospective endorsees waiting for the skies to shower their campaigns with millions in advertising will likely wait in vain.
For the most recent 30-day period (ending Aug. 20), Mayday's operating expenses ($217,000 per month) have been nicely covered by receipts from itemized donations (currently running at $249,000 per month). That leaves Mayday with a little less than $5 million to spend on campaign advertising between now and November 4th, or less than a million dollars for each of its five endorsees. Given its currently somewhat embarrassed financial condition, the PAC might be expected to think twice about its recently announced intention to expand its endorsements from five to eight in the near future.
Five million bucks split five ways is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it's hardly the kind of spending that will enable Mayday to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Koch brothers, or even lesser lights among current SuperPACs. And the impact of its cash must be still further discounted given Mayday's now-demonstrated penchant for ill-considered spending -- on one candidate who can't win (New Hampshire's Rubens), one who can't lose (North Carolina's Jones) and one (Arizona's Gallego) whose fortunes were hardly impacted at all by the tiny sum Mayday threw his way.
What exactly is the Mayday experiment accomplishing (aside from wasting progressive donors' money in an unusually important off-year election)?
Nota bene: Following Lessig's recent high-profile tantrum regarding your author's coverage of Mayday's inner workings, I have invited him to seek satisfaction on the field of honor by joining me in a debate regarding Mayday's strategy here on the pages of Daily Kos. He has just last night tentatively accepted that challenge, although ground rules remain to be agreed on. Stay tuned!