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Despite Obama protests, two groups aid his side

January 26, 2008 |  9:24 am

Sen. Barack Obama’s protests notwithstanding, two related independent campaigns are jumping into the primary fray on his behalf, buying newspaper ads, seeking to register voters and airing television ads in California and elsewhere touting his candidacy.

Funded primarily by wealthy Californians, the pro-Obama PowerPAC and Vote Hope are paying for radio and newspaper ads, calling voters, and trying to organize volunteers who will help get out the vote for Obama on Feb. 5.

So far, according to The Times' Dan Morain, the ads tout Obama and make no mention of his foes.

Obama strongly protested the involvement of such groups when....

they helped his foes, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards. Organized labor, the women’s group, EMILY’s List, and others spent $6 million in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now, the Edwards and Clinton campaigns are doing the protesting.

Edwards' deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince now criticizes Obama. “He loudly and repeatedly attacked independent groups in Iowa as special interests,” Prince said. “But when a different outside group with ties to his campaign starts raising and spending money on his behalf, there's not a peep from him or his campaign.”

Actually, on Friday, Obama’s campaign released a letter dated Dec. 28 to Vote Hope founder Steve Phillips urging that he disband the group. Phillips declined. Phillips’ wife, Susan, is the daughter of Herb and Marion Sandler, who are billionaires and major California Democratic donors.

The actual amount that the pro-Obama groups are spending is difficult to track. A PowerPAC filing with the Federal Election Commission placed the amount at $245,000.

Vote Hope raised $350,000 in the first half of the year, according to records filed in July with the FEC and the California Secretary of State. More detailed filings are expected Thursday.  When Vote Hope was created in March, Phillips said he hoped to raise $2 million to get Obama supporters to the polls in California.

-- Andrew Malcolm