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New super PAC on Arkansas' horizon

Group's treasurer also works for GOP super PACs funded by Sheldon Adelson, Robert Mercer

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A new super PAC appears to have its sights set on Arkansas, a state where incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is expected to face a contentious re-election challenge from GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who plans to kick off his Senate campaign on Tuesday.

Paperwork submitted recently to the Federal Election Commission says a new group called “Arkansas Horizon” intends to “raise funds in unlimited amounts” to produce political advertisements independently of any federal candidates.

Nothing in the FEC documents identify which candidates the super PAC plans to attack or endorse, and treasurer David Satterfield did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Satterfield’s past, however, suggests that Arkansas Horizon will tilt Republican.

As a member of the government relations team at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Arent Fox, Satterfield has helped numerous conservative groups comply with federal campaign finance rules, including the super PAC of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Among the other super PACs for whom Satterfield is also currently listed as treasurer:

  • Patriot Prosperity PAC, which, in 2012, spent more than $1.4 million on advertisements supporting two unsuccessful Republican candidates in New Jersey — U.S. House candidate Shmuley Boteach and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos.
     
  • National Horizon, which spent more than $1.2 million ahead of the 2012 election on ads backing GOP candidates such as Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon of Arizona. It also supported Wendy Long of New York, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
     
  • Concerned Taxpayers of America, which, in 2010, spent nearly $800,000 on ads aimed at defeating Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Frank Kratovil, D-Md. DeFazio weathered the storm, but Kratovil lost to Republican challenger Andy Harris.

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were major bankrollers of both the Republican Jewish Coalition’s super PAC and Patriot Prosperity PAC.

Meanwhile, National Horizon’s largest donors last year were billionaires Ronald Lauder, a businessman who served as U.S. ambassador to Austria under President Ronald Reagan, and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer — one of two major funders behind the Concerned Taxpayers of America super PAC in 2010.

When contacted by the Center for Public Integrity, officials at the both the Arkansas Democratic Party and Arkansas Republican Party expressed ignorance about the new Arkansas Horizon super PAC but predicted that the U.S. Senate race would see a flood of spending by big-money groups.

“There’s going to be a lot of money spent on both sides,” said David Ray, communications director of the Arkansas Republican Party, adding that Pryor has the “unenviable title of most vulnerable senator in America.”

Candace Martin, executive director of the Arkansas Democratic Party, argued that super PACs contribute to a “perpetual campaign cycle” while generating a “level of mistrust” among voters.

“A lot of out-of-state interest groups do not have an understanding of the state and misrepresent the state,” she said.

Representatives for Cotton and Pryor did responded to requests for comment.

Already, super PACs from beyond Arkansas’ state lines have spent more than $500,000 in the state, records show.

Most of that has come in the form of advertisements slamming Pryor from Senate Conservatives Action and Club for Growth Action, both of which are conservative groups based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Cotton has also been targeted in a modest buy from the Democratic-aligned, D.C.-based Senate Majority PAC.

For its part, Arkansas Horizon lists its address on FEC filings as Satterfield’s office in Washington, D.C.