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Dark Money Group Launches $2 Million Pressure Campaign on Moderate Lawmakers to Pass Parts of Biden's Agenda

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
  • WorkMoney, a nonprofit that launched last year at the height of the pandemic, is launching the effort, which includes digital ads on Facebook and Google.
  • The targets of the campaign include Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and republicans Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey and Shelley Moore Capito.
  • Some of the lawmakers who will see pressure from WorkMoney have already been in touch with Biden and seem to be on the path to a compromise with the administration.

A group funded by anonymous donors is launching a big-money influence campaign this week that will pressure moderate lawmakers to pass key pieces of President Joe Biden's agenda.

WorkMoney, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that launched last year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, is moving ahead with a new $2 million effort that will include digital ads both on Facebook and Google. The campaign will also include the group's nearly 2 million members engaging through emails and other means with over a dozen lawmakers on the need to pass Biden's infrastructure and family plans through Congress.

The nonprofit is known as a dark money group because it does not publicly disclose its donors. Founder CJ Grimes told CNBC in an email Monday that the group has raised over $20 million since its launch. Facebook's ad archive shows that the group has already spent over $5 million on ads in the buildup to this new campaign.

Grimes told CNBC in a phone interview that the group is seeking organizers to help set up town halls and assist in reaching out to congressional representatives in the House and the Senate. Grimes later emailed the group's target list, which includes Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

The organization believes that the support of many of these senators will be critical to seeing at least some elements of Biden's agenda passed.

"WorkMoney members are talking to moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats because they are the ones who are most likely to shape the legislation that ultimately passes," Grimes said. "These moderates on both sides of the aisle are the politicians who most need to hear from their constituents."

One of the new digital ads already live on WorkMoney's Facebook page calls for people to sign a petition in order to push Congress to pass Biden's infrastructure proposal. "It's time to quit the partisan games and invest in real American jobs. Tell your Congressperson: Pass the American Jobs Plan," the webpage reads after clicking the Facebook ad.

Biden has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure package that the president says should be paid for by raising the corporate and the top individual tax rates. Biden's $1.8 trillion family plan includes putting billions of federal money toward high-quality child care and creating a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program.

Some of the lawmakers who will see pressure from WorkMoney have already been in touch with Biden and seem to be on the path to a compromise with the administration. Moore Capito, Toomey and other Republican senators recently met with Biden to discuss infrastructure reform.

"We had another positive and substantive discussion about how to address our nation's infrastructure challenges in a bipartisan way," Moore Capito said in a statement after the meeting. "We listened to one another, and I felt that the president was receptive to our ideas and viewpoints."

Moore Capito and other Senate Republicans have proposed their own infrastructure framework that would cost over $565 billion and insist that raising taxes is not an option they are willing to consider to pay for it. A revised proposal from Republicans could be coming as soon as Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he believes an infrastructure package should cost no more than $800 billion.

Manchin, who is a moderate Democrat, has said he would be willing to agree on an infrastructure package that raises the corporate rate from 21% to around 25%.

Biden needs 10 Republican votes in order to pass a bipartisan bill through the Senate.

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