In a major reversal, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday would not disavow support from Persist PAC, a super PAC formed this week to support her campaign, despite long insisting that she would reject money and support from such committees during her bid for the presidency.
When asked by a reporter whether she wanted Persist PAC to “stand down,” Warren said it wouldn’t be fair for her to reject its support while her opponents continue to benefit from the support of super PACs.
“If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in, I’ll lead the charge. But that’s how it has to be,” Warren said at a campaign event in Nevada. “It can’t be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don’t.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Warren’s campaign website explicitly stated the senator “would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary.”
The promise was listed alongside other vows to reject contributions from PACs and federal lobbyists.
A group of Warren supporters officially registered the Persist PAC with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. Shortly after, the committee purchased $800,000 worth of television ads to boost Warren’s campaign ahead of Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, according to the Times.
Warren told reporters on Thursday that her male opponents have campaigns with deep pockets, benefitting from the financial support of super PACs or their own wealth.
“We reached the point a few weeks ago where all the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage all had either super PACs or they were multibillionaires or could just rummage around in their sock drawers to find enough money to be able to fund a campaign,” she said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took a jab at Warren for not speaking out against Persist on Thursday and mockingly praised himself for being the only candidate in the race that didn’t have “millions of dollars” from a super PAC.
“You can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” he tweeted.
He added, mocking Warren: “I am proud to be the only non-billionaire in this race without a super PAC spending millions of dollars to support me.”
Sanders does have the support of the National Nurses United union’s super PAC. That committee has contributed nearly $70,000 to his campaign this year.
Another new super PAC, Kitchen Table Conversations Super PAC, launched Friday to support Klobuchar’s campaign, according to Open Secrets.
Since the start of her campaign, Warren criticized how Wall Street and wealthy corporations sway U.S. elections by funding campaigns.
“Our democracy shouldn’t be bought and paid for by the wealthy and powerful. It belongs to all of us. When we use our voices and our votes, we can make real change ― big, structural change,” Warren wrote in a blog post on Medium in October.
Early in her campaign, Warren challenged her opponents to reject the support from PACs or to not self-fund their own presidential campaigns.
During the Democratic debate in New Hampshire earlier this month, Warren flagged herself and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) as the only candidates who did not accept support from wealthy PACs.
“Everyone on this stage except Amy and me is either a billionaire or is receiving help from PACs that can do unlimited spending,” she said proudly.
On Wednesday, Warren’s campaign said the senator’s position on super PACs remained the same.
“Since day one of this campaign, she has made clear that she thinks all of the candidates should lock arms together and say we don’t want super PACs and billionaires to be deciding our Democratic nominee,” the campaign said in a statement to the Times.