By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com August 16 2012 11:09 AM ET
The super PAC launched by hedge fund manager Paul Singer to encourage Republicans to support marriage equality will invest in its first three House races to fuel advertisements for Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California, Richard Hanna of New York and Judy Biggert of Illinois, all of whom face competitive contests against Democrats who already support marriage equality.
Politico reports on the investment by American Unity PAC, which “hopes to move the people it backs toward support” of marriage equality by insulating them from backlash, just as Singer and other donors have done for a group of New York state Republican senators. None of the three House recipients has publicly stated support for marriage equality, where Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is the only Republican in favor, but each has shown support for LGBT rights in a specific way. Documents being circulated by the super PAC, according to Politico, note that Hanna, a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus since last year, co-sponsored the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and opposed four amendments that affirmed the Defense of Marriage Act. Biggert co-sponsored ENDA, voted for hate-crimes legislation and “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal and opposed three of the four DOMA amendments. Bono Mack backed hate-crimes legislation and DADT repeal, and opposed three of the four DOMA amendments.
The three incumbents face Democratic challengers who support marriage equality, a position soon to be affirmed in the Democratic Party’s platform. Hanna is being opposed by Dan Lamb in New York, while Biggert faces a challenge from Bill Foster in Illinois, and Bono Mack is being challenged by Raul Ruiz in California.
American Unity PAC, which launched in June with a $1 million from Singer, expects to support three to seven candidates overall, according to Politico, although the group has not said how much it plans to spend in each race. The upcoming filings will show that the group has raised $1.6 million with other commitments to be fulfilled. Major donors in addition to Singer include the financiers Cliff Asness, who contributed $100,000, and Dan Loeb and Seth Klarman, who gave $250,000 apiece. All three were reported to be donors to American Unity PAC last month by the Financial Times.
Singer and the group have also been major contributors to Freedom To Marry, supplying more than one-third of $3 million the advocacy group announced this week it would pour into state ballot measure campaigns Maine, Minnesota and Washington. Singer, who has a gay son and gay son-in-law, has invested $1.7 in Freedom to Marry beginning with the campaigns in New York and New Hampshire last year, according to the organization.
The billionaire founder of Elliot Capital Management has close ties to the Republican presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but in a new interview with the Financial Times, he publicly disagrees with them on the issue.
“I have several friends who are very, very orthodox social conservatives,” he told the publication. “We agree on 80 to 90 per cent of the issues, and disagree on gay marriage. And that’s acceptable. I’ll keep making my case. It’s absolutely necessary.”
“I feel very strongly that Republicans are right on most issues,” he continued. “With continued work on marriage equality, I hope to persuade more Republicans of its rightness, too.”