A hedge fund manager and major Democratic donor is behind a new super PAC that is airing a controversial attack ad in Maryland’s competitive Senate race.
The ad, which criticizes Rep. Chris Van Hollen, was aired by a super PAC called Working for US. The donors behind that group were not known until new documents were filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.
S. Donald Sussman, a Maine resident and hedge fund manager, contributed $600,000 to Working for US earlier this month, according to the filings. A group associated with Emily’s List, a Washington-based organization that supports Rep. Donna F. Edwards, has also contributed to the super PAC.
Working for US began airing an attack ad in Baltimore and Washington this week accusing Van Hollen of cutting a deal with the National Rifle Association to exempt the gun lobby from a pending campaign finance reform bill. The ad has dominated the discussion in the competitive race since the White House took the unusual step this week of calling for the group to take the commercial off the air.
The ad’s message is consistent with one Edwards has been pushing for months, with one exception: It included an image of President Barack Obama tearfully recalling the deaths in the 2012 massacre as Sandy Hook. The ad indirectly suggested Obama opposed Van Hollen’s campaign finance reform bill when, in fact, the White House backed it.
Sussman is a major donor to Women Vote! — a group tied to Emily’s List, which has been airing more benign ads in Maryland on behalf of Edwards for months. Women Vote! also contributed $500,000 to Working for US in mid-March, though the report documents that $380,000 of that money was spent on field activities for to support Edwards.
There is a measure of irony in the fact that a hedge-fund manager is backing the anti-Van Hollen ad because Edwards has been arguing for much of her campaign that Van Hollen is cozy with Wall Street.
Irony is one way to put it. But I’m not a journalist. I’d call it rank hypocrisy. You should too.