By REBECCA BALLHAUS – – – –
The head of a super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is launching a $25 million effort aimed at expanding black and Latino voter turnout and protecting voting rights.
Organizers of the group, called Every Citizen Counts, maintain it will stay out of Mrs. Clinton’s primary race against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“We are building for the long term beyond 2016,” said Guy Cecil, who leads pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action and will advise the group.
Also involved in the group’s leadership is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. The group will announce other leadership officials in the next weeks.
The group’s formation was first reported by the Associated Press on Wednesday.
As a 501(c)(4) non-profit, Every Citizen Counts will not have to disclose its donors, as super PACs are required to do, which could draw criticism from Mr. Sanders. Mr. Sanders has repeatedly criticized Mrs. Clinton’s reliance on a multi-million-dollar super PAC that has spent about $500,000 promoting her–though he has also received about $1 million in support from a union-backed super PAC.
In June Mrs. Clinton proposed that Americans be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18, unless they opt out. She and other Democrats say Republicans initiatives such as voter ID laws are intended to make it harder for minorities and young people to vote. Republicans say they are focused on rooting out voter fraud.
Mr. Sanders too has called for increased protection of voting rights, including expanding the scope of the Voting Rights Act and making Election Day a national holiday. Like Mrs. Clinton, he has also called for automatic voter registration.
“Democrats and progressives win when voter turnout is high,” he said on Tuesday night after winning the New Hampshire primary. Republicans win when people are demoralized.”
The group’s launch comes as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders are fighting for the support of the African-American and Latino voters who form a significant proportion of the Democratic electorate in coming primary contests.