Deval Patrick at odds with some U.S. Democratic hopefuls over big money in politics


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House hopeful Deval Patrick said on Sunday he would not disavow a super PAC in support of his nascent candidacy, breaking with some leading Democrats who have ruled out accepting financial backing from outside groups.

The former Massachusetts governor and investment executive will need deep pockets to fund his latecomer bid to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for president against Republican Donald Trump next year. Campaigning in Nevada later on Sunday he said he hoped that soon such funding would not be part of the election process.

His bid announced just last Thursday, Patrick faces a crowded field of candidates seeking the nomination, most of whom have been campaigning and raising money since early 2019.

Speaking to reporters at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Las Vegas, Patrick said he had considered running last year, but declined to do so because of a family health concern.

He criticized his rivals for arguing over small details of such issues as how to make health-care available to all Americans, rather than recognizing that they all agree it is an important goal.

Asked by NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he would tell supporters to stop if they were raising money through a super PAC to help him catch up with other campaigns, Patrick said he would not.

“I think we need to do some catch-up so I think we’ve got to follow and find all sorts of above-board strategies,” Patrick said, adding that he would like to see any contributions to a super PAC supporting him fully disclosed.

Super PACs are a form of political action committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, unlike candidates, but cannot coordinate their efforts with a candidate’s campaign.

No such committee has been announced in support of Patrick, a Harvard-trained lawyer who resigned as managing director of Boston investment firm Bain Capital to launch his run for the White House.

Patrick is one of 19 Democrats competing to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the election.

Candidates including U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont have disavowed outside support from super PACs during the primary campaign and have both railed against the influence of money in politics.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the field in most national polls, initially opposed super PAC money, but his campaign, facing a fundraising shortfall, last month softened its stance.

A former Biden aide then launched a super PAC, “Unite the Country,” to counter sustained attacks on Biden from Trump and his allies.

Super PACs supporting Trump have continued raising money throughout his presidency.

Reporting by Simon Lewis in Washington, D.C., and Sharon Bernstein in Las Vegas; Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa Shumaker