Daygift. It’s that background in business that Jackson thinks will help him raise funds for the 1911 United Super PAC.
“This isn’t my first time raising funds for President Obama,” said Jackson. “I raised money for him in presidential run in ’08, and I was there when he was running for the Senate (in 2004). My job is to use to my contacts on Wall Street to find high-end donors for the 1911 United. We aim to raise over three million dollars.”
Since the Citizens United decision, Super PACs have spent millions on media, mostly negative ads, hoping to influence elections. This has produced mixed results, as billionaire Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson found out. Adelson, who is the eighth richest American according to Forbes magazine, worth an estimated $24 billion, spent millions on the failed GOP primary campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Undeterred, Adelson has pledged to spend over $100 million to help defeat President Obama.
According to the Washington Post, as of mid-April, 1911 United had only raised about $60,000, with another $60,000 in pledges. And while 1911 United still has a long way to go in their fundraising, Skinner knows that 1911 United can’t compete with billionaires in the media wars. Still, he thinks 1911 United has a secret weapon to combat the influence of Super PACs focused on negative ads.
“One of the things we know is that the best way to combat negative advertising is through word of mouth,” Skinner said. “If you have someone you trust tell you the truth, then you’ll believe them. That’s why we need to make sure that we have as many African Americans involved in the election, and keep them educated.”
“We’re the only Super PAC that has a laser focus on organizing African Americans in swing states,” according to Jackson. “We’re going to do this on a surgical basis. While other Super PACs are cash cows for negative ads, we’re not interested in that version of mutually assured destruction. We’re going to reenergize those who voted in 2008, and get them to understand the urgency of this election.”
That 1911 United campaign includes two summer bus tours through swing states, organizing African American students, and yes, having many more social soirees like the one in Hollywood. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity member, the comedian Joe Torry, is also lending his name and fame to the efforts, and the Super PAC hopes to get others to rally around the 1911 United.
“This is only the beginning,” said Jackson. “After we re-elect the president, we hope to be impactful in future elections. We’re building a (political) machine that we can be proud of, and I’m happy to be at the tip of the spear.”
Lawrence C. Ross, Jr. is the author of The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities.