Pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC picks up pace, opens doors to D.C.
POSTED: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 6:29am
UPDATED: Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 12:35pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- — Ready for Hillary, a super PAC aimed at urging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, has increased the number and scope of fundraisers and informational meetings it is organizing, according to representatives from the group.
In the past four days, the super PAC has organized events in California and Arkansas. And on Thursday night, Ready for Hillary will kick off its Washington-area push with a low-dollar fundraiser at a swanky lounge on K Street, the hub of D.C. lobbying.
And in the next month, the group has planned "low-dollar, grassroots" events in Texas, Ohio, Maine, Arizona and Oregon, as well as a "high-dollar" fundraiser in Scarsdale, New York.
"There has been exponential growth" in the group's efforts, said Tracy Sefl, an adviser to the super PAC and a former campaign adviser for Clinton's 2008 presidential run.
On Monday, Howard Gordon, co-creator of "Homeland," and Paul Keisel, a trial attorney in Los Angeles, hosted meetings for the group around Los Angeles. A spokesman for the group described the events as "informational meetings" without a fundraising asking price.
That wasn't the case, however, at an event Tuesday in Arkansas, where 30 people paid $1,000 to attend a fundraiser that included Archie Schaffer, a Tyson Foods executive closely affiliated with the Clinton family.
And on Friday, after the nighttime fundraiser in Washington, Carol Pensky, a longtime Democratic donor and the former treasurer for the Democratic National Committee, will host a fundraiser for the group at her Washington-area home.
According to a spokesman to the group, Jeremy Bird, the national field director for the 2012 re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada and Joe Lockhart, President Bill Clinton's former press secretary, will speak at the fundraiser.
Bird's inclusion in a Ready for Hillary event is noteworthy and continues a trend of Obama for America backing a Clinton run in 2016.
Earlier this year, the inclusion of former Obama battleground director Mitch Stewart at a group meeting signaled that at least some of the team that helped Obama win the White House is prepared to back Clinton as well.
"It makes sense that we are doing events in those communities where we are seeing enthusiasm and people who are asking to host events," said Sefl, the super PAC adviser.
But even as money is pouring in, representatives from Ready for Hillary say that raising money is not the group's primary focus.
"This organization is narrowly, laser-like focused on building its e-mail list, gathering these supporters and keeping everyone engaged," Sefl said. "It is our sole focus."
Sefl points to the D.C. event as proof of that, where the group is charging $20.16 for the event -- a nod to the hopes that Clinton runs in 2016 -- and hope that those in attendance will be young, excited political activists who can help Ready for Hillary in the future.
"The more soldiers you have on the ground, the more you can combat the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be coming (Clinton's) way," said Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who will speak at the event. "Getting people together is a big part of that process."
Ready for Hillary organizers said the event is already sold out and they hope roughly 300 people will attend. Events like this are being replicated in Texas, Ohio, Maine, Arizona and Oregon in the coming weeks.
In addition to Sefl and Ryan, Kouri Marshall, a state director for Obama's 2012 campaign, and Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, the director of Hispanic communications for Clinton's 2008 campaign, will also speak at the event.
Ryan was enthusiastic about supporting Ready for Hillary and, eventually, he hopes he will be supporting Clinton's presidential run. The congressman also said getting involved in a low-dollar fundraiser, compared with more high-dollar events, was important to him.
"If they (people at low-dollar fundraisers) give you 20 bucks, it means a lot more to them than some millionaire that is giving you $5,000 or $10,000," Ryan said. "I think these events are, in many ways, more important than high-dollar events that get so much attention."
Ryan will be the featured speaker at the high-dollar fundraiser in Scarsdale later this month.
With the increased fundraising and expanded reach, Ready for Hillary is likely to hear critiques -- as it did early in its effort -- about the super PAC becoming strictly a "campaign in waiting" as Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator, mulls another run for the White House.
Sefl, who has long charged that the assumption is false, defended the increased reach Wednesday.
"The organization has a very specific mission," she said. "Period, end of sentence."