A Super PAC supporting Joe Biden poured more than one million dollars into Iowa in December to bolster the former vice president’s standing in the first caucus state.
Unite the Country, which was created by a foreign agent for the government of Azerbaijan in October, spent nearly $1.2 million to underwrite Biden’s candidacy. The money was primarily spent on targeted ad buys throughout the month of December in Iowa, where Biden finds himself trailing both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The PAC made its first large scale expenditure on December 6 when it paid Old Town Media LLC, a Virginia-based public relations firm, $623,922 for media placements. The payment was earmarked specifically for Iowa’s media markets. On the same day that buy was made, the PAC also paid more than $31,000 to Putnam Partners, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based political messaging company, for “ad production.” In total, the PAC spent more than $655,000 in one day, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Both payments came as Unite the Country unveiled a new advertisement on YouTube titled “Courage,” touting the former vice president’s support for marriage equality and ending violence against women, among others.
Slightly more than a week after its first six-figure expenditure, the PAC made another large investment in Iowa, this time for more than half a million dollars. Unite the Country paid Old Town Media $500,000 on December 16 for media placements in the first caucus state. The following day, December 17, the group paid Putnam Partners a further $31,900.02 for ad production—bringing the PAC’s spending total to more than $531,000 for the two days.
Once again, the expenditures coincided with the release of new ad by Unite the Country. This one, titled “Refuse to Give Up,” intermixes Biden’s position on gun control with portions of a speech the former vice president delivered on the topic.
Overall, in the week and a half time span between December 6 and December 17, Unite the Country spent more than $1.19 million to boost Biden’s position in Iowa. It is unclear exactly how the PAC was able to raise such a large amount of money since launching on October 28. Reports of how much the group raised and spent have yet to be released by the FEC, provided they were filed by the appropriate campaign finance deadline.
Unite the Country, which can raise and spend unlimited funds, was formed after Biden jettisoned opposition to help from outside super PACs amid anemic fundraising and sinking poll numbers. Larry Rasky, the PAC’s founder, is a high-powered Washington, D.C. lobbyist with longstanding ties to the former vice president and his family. Prior to forming his own lobbying firm, Rasky served as the communications director for Biden’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. Since joining the lobbying world, Rasky has signed on to represent corporate giants like IBM and the defense contractor Raytheon.
Rasky’s initial decision to form Unite the Country was controversial because of his relationship with the government of Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic. In April 2019, the same month that Biden launched his presidential campaign, Rasky registered as a foreign agent to lobby on Azerbaijan’s behalf. Officially, Rasky was to be paid $15,000-per-month for his services, according to documents filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
It remains uncertain if Rasky still works for the foreign regime, as his contract was scheduled to end in late-October, but had the possibility of being extended. Breitbart News was unable to find any records filed with the DOJ indicating his employment with Azerbaijan had ceased.
The super PAC’s investment in Iowa comes after Biden’s campaign signaled it would make an effort to win the state, despite having written it off earlier. Biden, who once led the field by double digits, has dropped to fourth place in Iowa, but still remains within striking distance of his top rivals.
A recent poll out of the state, conducted shortly after Unite the Country made its initial ad buy, found Biden garnering 15 percent among Iowa Democrats. Biden trailed not only both Buttigieg (24 percent) and Sanders (21 percent) but also Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who landed in this third place with 18 percent support
Given the narrowness of the margin separating all of the candidates, Biden has launched a fullscale effort to catapult into first place ahead of the February caucuses. Unite the Country appears to be following suit, as evidenced by its heavy spending campaign.
Somewhat ironically, though, Biden has attempted to improve his standing in Iowa by playing to the state’s long history of backing populist causes and candidates. As such, the former vice president has lambasted lesser-known rivals, like billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, for using their personal fortunes to boost their White House ambitions.
“Since the day that this campaign launched, we have relied on grassroots support to power this campaign,” Biden’s team wrote when attacking Steyer, only days before Unite the Country launched its first six-figure ad buy in Iowa.