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New super PAC forms in contested Calif. district

'Empower Central Valley' lists address as UPS mailbox in San Joaquin County

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A new super PAC called "Empower Central Valley" has registered with the Federal Election Commission, listing its address in California's 10th Congressional District, which is represented by sophomore Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican.

Last year, the district was one of the top targets for partisans on both sides of the aisle. On top of the $4.4 million spent by the candidates themselves, outside groups spent more than $8 million on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Just two other House contests in California saw more non-candidate spending during the 2012 election cycle.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alone pumped nearly $2.7 million into the district in 2012 on advertisements critical of Denham or supportive of Democratic candidate Jose Hernandez. Meanwhile, the GOP-aligned American Action Network spent about $2.5 million on such messages, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Empower Central Valley's objectives are not yet clear. The group lists its treasurer as Nancy Watkins, a Florida-based Republican accountant who did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Center for Public Integrity. Its mailing address is listed as a box at a UPS store in Tracy, Calif., in San Joaquin County, and it does not have a website.

Watkins has served as the treasurer for dozens of GOP candidates and groups across the country, including Rep. Michele Bachmann's failed presidential bid in 2012. Earlier this month, she signed on as treasurer for a super PAC that's backing Republican Gabriel Gomez in Massachusetts' special U.S. Senate election.

While Republicans have a slight edge in California's 10th Congressional District, President Barack Obama beat out Republican Mitt Romney there by 3.5 percentage points in 2012, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which currently ranks the district among the top six dozen competitive House districts in the country.