The Clinton campaign explored using the pro-choice advocacy group EMILY’s List to coordinate messaging strategy with Priorities USA, the Hillary aligned Super PAC, according to a leaked email from the campaign.
The campaign was trying to save up to $4 million dollars by getting Priorities USA to run an ad campaign that it wanted.
After conferring with the Clinton campaign’s lawyer Marc Elias, Oren Shur, the Director of Paid Media, sent an email to John Podesta, Huma Abedin, Robby Mook and several other Clinton campaign officials with a plan in August 2015. (The message was included in the John Podesta emails released by Wikileaks.)
To get the message and Clinton footage to Priorities USA, they would use EMILY’s List to film video of Hillary Clinton and send “smoke signals.”
“It gets us many of the benefits without some of the risks,” wrote Shur. While he recommends the “smoke signals” strategy, it is one of two options — the first being “coordinated issue advocacy ads with Priorities.”
EMILY’s List, he explained, would publicly post suggested themes and portions of the video to send a message to Super PACs. It is unclear whether the campaign implemented their strategy or whether EMILY’s List agreed to serving as a third party surrogate for the campaign.
But the Clinton campaign had already advanced the idea to the level of a conference call with senior staff.
“Ultimately, these determinations are up to EL (Emily’s List), but there is no restriction on HFA’s ability to make suggestions or recommendations,” he wrote.
Read the strategy memo below:
Hi everyone –
In advance of today’s call with HRC, following several discussions we had today with Marc, we wanted to send a quick update on where our recommendations stand:
The decision before us is whether to (1) pursue coordinated issue advocacy ads with Priorities (where we’d be breaking new ground) or (2) send public smoke signals in a more traditional way to the Priorities IE. We’re recommending option 2, as it gets us many of the benefits without some of the risks. Assuming the Priorities IE picks up the signals and airs the ads, it would save the campaign anywhere from $2-4M (depending on how long they’re on air for).
To execute the strategy, we recommend the following:
Ø We work with the hard side of Emily’s List, as they have both a coordinated and IE side
Ø Emily’s List coordinated side would need to shoot its own footage with its own consultants, but our consultants can be involved. Under this plan, EL would do a shoot with HRC asap – done by EL consultants, but with ours there too. (We may also invite EL crew to a town hall.) Ø EL would then post portions of the video to a designated page on its public website – and would include on that page suggested themes/media market targets to its website. Ultimately, these determinations are up to EL, but there is no restriction on HFA’s ability to make suggestions or recommendations. This page would serve as a signal to Priorities, other IE’s and other allied organizations.
Ø The key to making this plan work is getting a shoot on the schedule asap. We would also get HFA footage from the shoot, which we also very much need.