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Abortion Policy Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political notes: Md. abortion rights group swipes at EMILY’s List, candidates cited by FEC

Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images.

It’s no surprise that the leading candidates for U.S. Senate in the May 14 Democratic primary — and some of their top supporters — are sniping at each other. But now a Maryland abortion rights group is attacking one of the most prominent national abortion rights groups over the Senate race.

EMILY’s List, the powerhouse national organization that aids Democratic women who support abortion rights, endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) fairly early in the campaign to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D). That was not a surprise.

But what has been surprising is that it’s only been in the past week that the group’s affiliated political action committee, Women Vote!, has been on the airwaves, blocking and tackling for Alsobrooks.

The PAC’s spending in Maryland has now topped $2.5 million. Its ad features an attack, which Alsobrooks has used herself, criticizing her chief rival, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), for making campaign contributions to conservative Republicans who oppose abortion rights.

“David Trone and his companies gave half a million dollars to extreme and MAGA Republicans to win their elections,” a female narrator says in the ad. “David Trone cares more about his bottom line than our rights.”

Trone has said throughout the campaign that those donations were made in the interest of his company, Total Wine & More, which does business all over the country, including in many red states.

That ad campaign has brought a rebuke from a group called Reproductive Justice Maryland, which issued a statement this week questioning why EMILY’s List would spend precious resources attacking a candidate — Trone — who has earned high ratings from abortion rights groups like NARAL (now known as Reproductive Freedom For All, which has endorsed Alsobrooks) and Planned Parenthood and helped arrange funding for a new abortion clinic in Western Maryland. In its statement, RJM suggested the attacks on Trone could benefit the likely Republican Senate nominee, former Gov. Larry Hogan.

“Not only is this misleading to voters, it could also jeopardize the integrity of the upcoming elections, potentially paving the way for candidates antithetical to women’s rights, like Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked candidate Larry Hogan, to gain power,” the pro-choice organization said.

RJM said it had no problem with EMILY’s List decision to endorse Alsobrooks — “after all they support pro-choice women.” But RJM took EMILY’s List to task for accepting half a million dollars from “a Republican megadonor,” which it did not identify.

It’s an apparent reference to Robert Granieri, a New York financier who was a major donor to Republicans in the 2022 election cycle, according to campaign finance websites, but has spread his money around more evenly this time around. Granieri donated $500,000 to Women Vote! this election cycle. The United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, a powerful pro-Israel group, gave $200,000 to Women Vote! this year, even as it has contributed to both Republicans and Democrats this election cycle.

Earlier this year, an article in Slate took note of some of EMILY’s List’s newest donors and questioned the abortion rights group’s tactics. “EMILY’s List has waded into races in ways that threaten to help Republicans rather than Democrats,” the article said. “It has teamed up with a Republican-funded organization and backed candidates with conservative voting histories or who risk tipping races for conservatives.”

Meanwhile, leaders of EMILY’s List and other advocacy groups supporting Alsobrooks are having a rally with the candidate and her supporters at Alsobrooks’ Silver Spring campaign office on Saturday morning.

Scheduled to appear with Alsobrooks are Jessica Mackler, EMILY’s List president; Glynda C. Carr, president and CEO of Higher Heights PAC, which supports Black women running for office; Rushad Thomas, legislative affairs director for End Citizens United/Let America Vote, a campaign finance reform group that has endorsed Alsobrooks; and Yvonne Gutierrez, chief strategy officer for Reproductive Freedom For All.

FEC cites four Md. late filers

The Federal Election Commission on Friday cited four Maryland congressional campaign committees for failing to file the 12-Day Pre-Primary Report that was required to be submitted on May 2, ahead of next Tuesday’s primaries.

As of Friday, the required disclosure report had not been received from:

  • Chris Bruneau, a building contractor challenging U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st District Republican primary
  • McKayla Wilkes (D), who is making her third bid for Congress in the 5th District
  • Destiny Drake West, a longshot Democratic contender in the 6th District
  • Businesswoman Abigail Diehl, one of 22 Democrats competing in the 3rd District primary

The FEC said it notified committees involved in these primary elections of their potential filing requirements on April 12. Those committees that did not file by the due date were sent notification on May 3, a day after the filing deadline, that their reports had not been received and that their names would be published if they did not respond within four business days.

The FEC said Friday that further action against non-filers and late filers will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

This story has been updated to reflect that the group Reproductive Freedom For All has endorsed Angela Alsobrooks for Senate.

Disclosure: The David and June Trone Family Foundation was a financial supporter of Maryland Matters in 2017 and 2018.

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Political notes: Md. abortion rights group swipes at EMILY’s List, candidates cited by FEC