During last year's election cycle, the Obama administration criticized conservative 501(c)(4) political action committees. President Obama himself called the existence of such groups a "threat to our democracy." The Democratic National Committee ran an ad speculating that Republicans taking donations from these PACs, since the groups have no legal obligation to disclose their donors, were taking "secret foreign money."
In October of last year, then-White House spokesman Bill Burton said of such groups, "The people who want to keep these donations secret are those with something to hide."
But for the 2012 cycle, Obama allies and other Democrats, including Burton, are looking to form these very groups. The Los Angeles Timesreports:
Majority PAC, a new group aimed at electing Democrats to the Senate, and American Bridge 21st Century, which will serve as a research hub, are being organized as so-called super political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of money from contributors whose donations are reported to the Federal Election Commission. But both are also affiliated with nonprofit 501(c)(4) social welfare groups that can raise money from undisclosed donors and give money directly to super PACs.
The same dual structure is being considered by Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, two former White House aides who are likely to launch their own independent expenditure effort in support of President Obama's reelection, according to people familiar with the plans.