A Dem Super PAC with Sex, Guns, and Swearing

Actors help a pro-Obama group produce viral ads on the cheap | Leveraging “smaller amounts of money to have a ... bigger impact”

Justin Bachman

In an election year when the Koch brothers and casino king Sheldon Adelson have deployed their fortunes for Republicans, there’s been little written about political operator Mik Moore. He’s a left-leaning New Yorker who runs a super PAC working to keep Barack Obama in the White House. His weapon of choice: a string of funny, off-color videos starring comedian Sarah Silverman and actor Samuel L. Jackson. The group’s latest effort, released on Sept. 27, has the Pulp Fiction star telling voters to “wake the f--- up!” and vote for Obama. The four-minute ad, written by Adam Mansbach and available in both explicit and bleeped versions on the Web, is based on Mansbach’s 2011 bestseller for parents, Go the F**k to Sleep. (Jackson read the audio version of the book, too.) In another video, Silverman offers to have “traditional lesbian sex” with Adelson, the 79-year-old billionaire chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands, if he’ll give his pledged $100 million to Obama’s campaign instead of Romney’s.

Moore, 38, is co-executive director of the Jewish Council for Education & Research (JCER), a super PAC that first gained attention in summer 2008 with The Great Schlep, an ad in which Silverman urged young people to “schlep” to Florida to lobby their grandparents to vote for Obama. (“If you knew that visiting your grandparents could change the world, would you do it? Of course you would. You’d have to be a douchenozzle not to.”) In April the super PAC received a $200,000 donation from Alex Soros, son of billionaire George Soros. That money is helping fund as many as a dozen videos, three of them already released. “We tend to work with a lot of comics because we feel humor is a good way of talking about issues that are hard to talk about,” says Moore, who estimates his total budget is between $300,000 and $400,000.

Adelson’s deep spending is one element of the 2012 race motivating Moore’s super PAC. While it’s unclear if Adelson will contribute as heavily in future elections, “I take that level of spending very seriously,” Moore says. After the Adelson video, Silverman starred in another that decries voter ID laws. The video, called Get Nana a Gun, features an actor playing Silverman’s grandmother and notes that some states don’t allow Social Security, military, or student ID cards as valid forms of identification. In Tennessee and Texas, however, a firearm permit with a photo will do the trick. A federal court has blocked the Texas law, and courts have put similar laws on hold in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Silverman’s voter ID video had nearly 2.2 million YouTube views as of Oct. 2.

Before he started his own consulting firm last year, Moore worked for Bend the Arc, a Jewish group that promotes social justice. He has also worked for unions, government agencies, and the unsuccessful mayoral bid by New York City Public Advocate Mark Green in 2001. “The area I’ve been working to innovate,” Moore says, “is looking at how you build campaigns around media, particularly new media and social networks. I think you can leverage smaller amounts of money to have a much bigger impact.” While Moore won’t disclose who will appear in future videos, he’s willing to dish one tidbit: “We will do videos that don’t have cursing in them at all.”

The bottom line On a budget of less than $400,000, the creators of edgy pro-Obama ads hope to blunt millions in super PAC money supporting Romney.


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