Feingold forms PAC to boost liberal candidates, fight corporate influence

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) on Wednesday announced the formation of a new liberal political group meant to boost liberal candidates and combat corporate influence in politics.

Feingold, the three-term former senator and liberal stalwart, said he had formed Progressives United, a full-service action group with its own political action committee (PAC).

{mosads}”We’re starting a new organization, Progressives United, that will help us fight back,” Feingold said in a Web video announcing the group. “We’ll work to ensure that our elected officials, both Republicans and Democratic, are held accountable to the people, and not to the lobbyists in Washington. We’ll call out the media, when they hide from the real story. And we’ll support candidates when they uphold our progressive ideals, even if the Beltway establishment doesn’t.”

Progressives United is ostensibly intended to combat the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, a decision that opened the floodgates to increased spending by corporate and labor groups in last fall’s elections.

President Obama led Democrats in assailing the influence of corporate money in the 2010 elections, launching attacks against groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS for spending tens of millions against Democrats and for Republicans without disclosing their corporate funders.

Feingold’s new group was formed as an “effort dedicated to mitigating the effects of, and eventually overturning, the Citizens United decision,” according to its website. But it will also look to boost liberal candidates through its newly formed PAC.

A new crop of liberal groups are looking to step forward in the 2012 election cycle to boost Democrats the way Republicans received outside help in 2010. Activist David Brock is said to be preparing a big-money outside group to take advantage of weakened campaign finance laws, for instance. Progressives United, however, will be governed by the relatively more rigorous laws regulating PACs through the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Feingold told the Huffington Post that the group would take no soft money, either.

During his time in the Senate, Feingold was seen as a champion not only of liberalism, but also of reformed campaign finance laws. He had worked with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on landmark campaign finance reform law.

There had been questions about how the former Wisconsin senator would spend his time post-Congress. He ruled out a primary challenge from President Obama’s left in 2012, and instead accepted a position teaching law at Marquette University. He’s also working on a book leveling wide-ranging criticism of U.S. foreign policy.

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