GOP-linked group spends $2.4M for Democrat Senate candidate

February 10, 2020 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Republican-linked political committee that’s behind a TV ad praising Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith is spending at least $2.4 million to push her candidacy in a primary race, a document says.

In a weekend filing, the Faith and Power PAC revealed to the Federal Election Commission the value of the expenses it’s incurred for the TV commercial, along with mailers and phone calls.

North Carolina Democrats say it’s a GOP effort to disrupt the the Democratic primary.

The PAC bought TV ads that began running last week in at least four North Carolina markets, touting Smith’s support for liberal initiatives such as “Medicare for All” and the “Green New Deal.”

Faith and Power is an independent expenditure group created two weeks ago that can receive unlimited amounts from donors, whose names have not yet been disclosed.

The PAC’s ad buyer has had conservative groups and Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign for clients, and the PAC names a Virginia bank favored by Republican presidential candidate committees in years past to hold its money.

This and other information has led Democrats to accuse Faith and Power of interfering in their party’s March 3 primary, where candidate Cal Cunningham has had a wide fundraising advantage over Smith. Cunningham had $1.7 million in his campaign coffers entering 2020 compared to $94,000 for Smith. Cunningham also is benefiting from TV ads from outside groups.

Smith’s campaign criticized the PAC’s involvement in the race. Cunningham’s campaign said Monday the PAC’s expenditures show Tillis and Washington Republicans are “panicked by the prospect of facing” Cunningham in the fall.

A phone number listed for the PAC didn’t ring Monday. Emails sent to the PAC’s listed address haven’t been returned.