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Published May 03, 2012, 07:04 PM

Former ND Congress Candidate to Set Up Super PAC

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A former Republican congressional candidate is using leftover campaign money to establish North Dakota's first super PAC, a new avenue for political money and influence that is already playing a role in the state's U.S. Senate race.

By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A former Republican congressional candidate is using leftover campaign money to establish North Dakota's first super PAC, a new avenue for political money and influence that is already playing a role in the state's U.S. Senate race.

Shane Goettle was one of five GOP competitors for the party's U.S. House endorsement at the North Dakota Republican state convention last month. Goettle finished second to Brian Kalk, who is now running against Kevin Cramer in the June GOP primary.

Goettle said Thursday he ended his endorsement bid with about $50,000 left in the bank. He raised almost $154,000 for his race, according to his most recent Federal Election Commission disclosure report, which included fundraising through March 31.

Federal rules allow him to transfer some or all of his leftover campaign funds to his nascent super PAC, Goettle said. It will be called the Brighter Future Fund.

"My vision for it is to be a North Dakota-based PAC. We have not had that before," Goettle said.

Goettle intends to use his campaign money to finance it, as well as donations from North Dakota businesses and individuals.

"For those who want to continue to help Republicans in federal races, a super PAC allows them to have another place to put their resources," he said.

A super PAC, or political action committee, is different from a conventional PAC in that it has no limits on the amounts of money that it may raise and spend. It may collect donations from companies, unions, associations and individuals.

A super PAC is barred from coordinating its efforts with candidates' own campaigns, and it may not donate to candidates directly.

North Dakota's secretary of state, Al Jaeger, said Thursday that Goettle's proposed super PAC would be the first such organization to be based in the state.

The organizations have sprung up in the wake of recent federal court rulings that loosened restrictions on political advocacy spending by corporations and other organizations.

One prominent super PAC is American Crossroads, an organization co-founded by Karl Rove, a former top political aide and deputy chief of staff for Republican President George W. Bush.

An affiliated nonprofit organization, Crossroads GPS, recently aired a North Dakota television ad critical of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp's support of the federal health care law pushed by President Barack Obama two years ago.

Heitkamp will run against the winner of the North Dakota Republican U.S. Senate primary next month, which pits U.S. Rep. Rick Berg against Bismarck businessman Duane Sand.

Alison Kelly, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Democratic Party, said Thursday, said Democrats expect super PAC attacks as well against the Democratic U.S. House candidate, Pam Gulleson.

"The Republican special interests will stop at nothing until anonymous sources from Washington and Wall Street, flush with unlimited money, control the direction of North Dakota," Kelly said.

Crossroads GPS's North Dakota effort was part of a $1.2 million ad campaign in five states — the others are Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Virginia — which are crucial to Republican efforts to win Senate control in this fall's elections.

A separate super PAC, the Freedom Pioneers Action Network, was recently formed to support Berg's Senate bid. Its treasurer is Justin Brasell, a former campaign aide for U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Republican minority leader.

Through March 31, the Freedom Pioneers Action Network had not yet done any fundraising, according to its most recent Federal Election Commission disclosure filing. The report listed no contributions and one $2,320 debt to a Dallas law firm.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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