For student-run Super PAC, time to sober up

Two seniors snagged appearances on Fox News and CNBC when they launched the bipartisan Slam Dunks, Fireworks and Eagles Super PAC, which they said could pick up the tab for political beer summits where politicians could draw up solutions to solve the country’s fiscal woes.

But after raising more than $1,000 this summer, Daniel Bassali and Winslow Marshall want to turn heads toward their more sobering message: helping close the country’s trillion-dollar budget deficit.

Marshall said the pair was slightly disheartened at the media’s attention on their boozy gimmick instead of “the actual issues at hand” – bringing both political parties to the same table to close the deficit.

“While we of course don’t mind talking about the beer, we want to show that this is not just a big stunt – we actually have major concerns here, and that’s what we’re trying to address,” Bassali added.

The pair has struck out so far in booking congressmen for their first summit after reaching out to Rep. Emmanuel Cleavers, D-Mo., Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, D-W.V, and Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

But they’re trying to build momentum with upcoming events. They held a collegiate version of their beer summit, hosting the College Democrats and College Republicans three weeks ago.

“We don’t think we’re going to hold an event and suddenly the deficit’s going to disappear,” Marshall said. “But I do think that when we hold this event in November, it’s going to add another level of legitimacy to what we’re doing.”

Bassali said he’s pleased with what the group has accomplished so far, building buzz so that politicians can eventually get buzzed – and implement economic fixes.

“The whole purpose at first,” Bassali said, “was getting money, getting donations, reaching out to the media so we could broadcast our message, and I think we’ve successfully done all of that.”

Their experience has also been a lesson in 21st-century political fundraising, showing off how simple it is to start an independent political group. Their efforts piggybacked off the awareness brought by Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC last year with his group “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds from corporations, groups and individuals and then spend it toward political advocacy without directly coordinating with campaigns. They grew out of the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,

“The average person who’s been donating $10, $20, $50, those are great, that’s true support, and we love getting that support. We’re also starting to look at bigger investments in the Super PAC from more specific individuals,” Bassali said.

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