New Dem group aims for $100 million plus

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Three former Obama administration officials have set an ambitious goal of raising $100 million to $200 million to underwrite an outside group to help President Obama win a second term.

Ex-White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, who will be leading the new group, made trips to Los Angeles and New York last month to meet with prospective donors for the new independent group, according to Democrats close to the fledgling drive. It does not yet have a name.

Burton and Sweeney have recruited Teddy Johnston, a lawyer who worked in the Obama Commerce Department and had been a Florida fundraiser in the 2008 campaign, for help in identifying potential donors.

The new group, which is likely to be formally launched in the next few weeks, has been interviewing candidates for staff jobs. Burton and Sweeney are still deciding whether the new group will be organized as a nonprofit that must disclose its donors, or as a two-pronged entity that can accept donations some of which are public and some of which remain secret.

The group’s sights are set on some long time big name Democratic donors, a few of whom were pitched in Hollywood last month. To help woo donors in Los Angeles, Burton and Sweeney were accompanied by veteran Democratic pollster Geoff Garin and ex Clinton aide Paul Begala.

The new group is expected to be the main Democratic vehicle to compete with American Crossroads and its affiliate which with sizable help from GOP consultants Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie raised $71 million to help Republicans win back the House last year. The two Crossroads groups have said they are aiming to raise $120 million for their 2012 efforts which will include television ads and get out vote blitzes.

The Center first reported that Burton and Sweeney were planning their new independent drive in a story last month.

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