Campaign finance records show more than $1 million in independent expenditures from super PACs are paying for advertisements in support of Mayor Garcia and against Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, his main Democratic rival for the seat.
Virtually all of the independent expenditures so far in the race are either in support of Robert Garcia or against Cristina Garcia, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Robert Garcia has pledged his campaign will refuse money from corporate political action committees, and on his website says, “I strongly believe in ending Citizens United,” the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that opened the door to unlimited campaign spending from corporations through super PACs.
Records show Robert Garcia has stood by that pledge, with no PAC donations going directly to his campaign, but that hasn’t stopped the hefty spending from PAC-funded independent expenditure groups, which, campaign manager Nathan Click emphasized, the mayor’s campaign is legally forbidden from coordinating with in any way.
By far the largest independent expenditure effort in support of Mayor Garcia comes from Protect Our Future PAC, which has spent $866,522 on a variety of ad buys.
Largely funded by 30-year-old crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, Protect Our Future PAC supports candidates who champion pandemic prevention, according to Caitlyn McNamee, a spokesperson for Protect Our Future PAC. The super PAC has endorsed 19 candidates across the country, including Robert Garcia.
“Robert Garcia became nationally recognized for his impressive, proactive leadership amid the pandemic; even after losing his mom and stepfather to COVID-19, he led the way in Long Beach, expanding mobile testing and managing a successful vaccine rollout,” said McNamee. “Further, since hitting the primary trail, he has made pandemic prevention and preparedness a core focus of his campaign.”
McNamee said Protect Our Future PAC plans to spend about $1 million in the 42nd Congressional District race.
Since May 5, the PAC has given $50,000 to New York-based PFB Media for ad production and another $816,522 to Virgina-based Screen Strategies Media for radio, digital and television ad buys, according to the Protect Our Future disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission.
One of the ads produced by Protect Our Future highlights Robert Garcia’s immigrant background and time as mayor, noting that, “In Congress, he’ll fight to give every family a shot.”
Another organization, the pro-LGBTQ civil rights group Equality California, has so far spent $32,891 in support of Mayor Garcia through its super PAC Equality California Votes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In early May, the organization announced it would fund a “five figure advertising buy” in support of Robert Garcia’s campaign. The 30-second television ad highlights the Long Beach mayor’s efforts on getting residents vaccinated against COVID-19, advocating for better pay for essential workers and providing small business assistance.
“Mayor Garcia’s record speaks for itself: leading the nation in COVID-19 testing and vaccination, delivering hero pay for essential workers, growing the economy with good-paying jobs and helping small businesses recover,” said Equality California Votes spokesperson Samuel Garrett-Pate in a May 4 statement. “We’re proud to support Mayor Garcia’s campaign for Congress because we’re confident that he’ll deliver for all of us.”
Another super PAC, Californians for Safe & Healthy Communities, has so far spent $69,506 in support of Robert Garcia, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The super PAC formed in January, according to POLITICO, but the Post could find no contact information for its office.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s BOLD PAC is also spending $150,000 on cable and digital ads in support of Mayor Garcia, according to a FEC filing made public on May 19.
A BOLD PAC spokesperson wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Two other independent expenditure groups have been spending money against Cristina Garcia, according to the FEC
The super PAC United Democracy Project gave Brushfire Strategies, a woman-run political consulting firm based in Washington, DC, $17,964 to do get-out-the-vote phone calls against Cristina Garcia, according to the FEC.
A spokesperson for United Democracy Project wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The other group, Voter Protection Project, is a hybrid PAC/super PAC founded by Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Janz, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican Congressman Devin Nunes in 2018.
Though Voter Protection Project formed in 2020 to push for expanded voting rights and lead “the fight against voter suppression efforts at the state and federal level by defeating those Republicans who seek to suppress our right to vote,” the group has so far spent $42,894 on two attack ads against Cristina Garcia, according to the FEC.
A spokesperson for Voter Protection Project didn’t respond to an inquiry by press time. Leo Briones, campaign manager for Cristina Garcia, was incensed at the ad buy.
“You shouldn’t be running hit pieces in a Democrat-on-Democrat primary from Fresno,” said Briones.
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