Super-PAC Opposes Rangel, Helps Ex-Clinton Aide in N.Y. Primary

Photograph by Andy Jacobsohn/MCT via Getty Images

Clyde Williams, former National Political Director of the Democratic National Committee, in his newly-opened campaign headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in New York.

A New York City congressional candidate with ties to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton is getting help from a super-PAC that’s opposed to incumbent Democratic Representative Charles Rangel.

Clyde Williams, a former Democratic National Committee political director, is the preferred candidate of the super-PAC, Campaign for our Future, which is funded by a Booz Allen Hamilton executive who was the first donor to Williams’ campaign.

“We want voters to realize that this is a real opportunity for them to choose change,” Nicole Shore, a consultant to the super-PAC, said in a telephone interview.

The PAC’s main benefactor is Reggie Van Lee, a Booz Allen Hamilton senior vice president who accounted for $50,000 of the $51,800 the PAC raised through June 6, according documents the PAC filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. Van Lee has donated to Democratic candidates and committees including Obama, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Shore said the super-PAC has since exceeded $100,000 in donations and will continue raising money through the June 26 Democratic primary — the key election in a heavily Democratic district that includes parts of northern Manhattan and the Bronx. Campaign for our Future paid more than $58,000 on mail pieces critical of Rangel, including one that says “SORRY, CHARLIE.”

Super-PACs, which grew out of a series of court decisions and regulatory rulings in 2010, are influential in congressional races because they can accept unlimited contributions from donors who are barred by law from writing big checks directly to candidates. Van Lee’s $50,000 donation to Campaign for Our Future is 20 times the $2,500 maximum donation he gave to Williams in September 2011 for the primary.

Van Lee didn’t return an e-mail message seeking comment.

Williams moved to Harlem in 2001 to work as a domestic policy adviser to Clinton, who opened an office there. Clinton administration officials who have donated to Williams include former national security adviser Sandy Berger; Gregory B. Craig, Obama’s former White House counsel; and Joel Johnson, managing director of Glover Park Group.

Williams has ties to Obama through his work at the Democratic National Committee, where re-electing the president is the top goal, and through his wife, Mona Sutphen, a former deputy chief of staff to Obama. Neither Clinton nor Obama has made an endorsement.

Williams is one of four Democrats challenging Rangel, 82, in the primary election. Rangel, who’s seeking a 22nd term, is vulnerable in part because of changes made by court-ordered redistricting in March. He was censured by the House in December 2010 for ethics violations.

Still, the congressman may win with a plurality of the vote over a divided field that also includes state Senator Adriano Espaillat. Rangel won the 2010 primary with 51 percent of the vote over five opponents.

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