Rep. Summer Lee

Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2024.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Summer Lee Condemns Arrival of GOP 'Billionaire Cavalry' in PA Democratic Primary

"Republican-funded super PACs and their chosen candidate couldn't stop us last cycle, and they won't stop us this time."

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee said Thursday that the "Republican billionaire cavalry has finally arrived" in her Pennsylvania district after a super PAC whose sole contributor in the 2022 election cycle was a GOP megadonor debuted an ad backing the progressive Squad member's Democratic primary opponent.

The 30-second spot by the so-called "Moderate PAC" praises Bhavini Patel—an Edgewood, Pennsylvania councilmember—and attacks Lee for criticizing President Joe Biden and pursuing what the group described as an "extreme socialist agenda." The ad comes with Pennsylvania's April 23 primary just over a month away.

Moderate PAC has been described in media coverage as "an organization of centrist Democrats," but its only donation in the 2022 cycle came from Susquehanna International Group, a trading firm co-founded by Republican benefactor Jeffrey Yass—the richest man in Pennsylvania who has reportedly avoided $1 billion in taxes.

"The tax savings have contributed to an explosion in wealth for Yass, who has increasingly poured that fortune into candidates and causes on the political right," ProPublicareported in 2022. "He has spent more than $100 million on election campaigns in recent years. The money has gone to everything from anti-tax advocacy and charter schools to campaigns against so-called critical race theory and for candidates who falsely say the 2020 election was stolen and seek to ban abortion."

Yass has been floated as a possible treasury secretary pick if former President Donald Trump wins another term in November.

"It is no surprise that a man Donald Trump has called 'fantastic' sees our people-powered progressive movement as a threat, because we are."

Lee, who raised over $1 million in mostly small-dollar donations in the final quarter of 2023, said Thursday that Yass "is already the biggest donor of the 2024 election cycle spending $46.4 million for Republicans so far and was the third-largest Republican donor in America last cycle, donating $47 million to Republican candidates and committees."

"His biggest priorities have been defunding public education, banning abortion, and cutting taxes for the wealthiest billionaires in our country," said Lee. "It is no surprise that a man Donald Trump has called 'fantastic' sees our people-powered progressive movement as a threat, because we are."

"I will always defend our abortion rights and reproductive freedom, continue delivering investments to our public education, and push Congress to pass my OLIGARCH Act to tax extreme wealth, reduce inequality, and invest that money back in our communities," Lee added. "Republican-funded super PACs and their chosen candidate couldn't stop us last cycle, and they won't stop us this time."

Moderate PAC was founded in 2021 with the express purpose of bolstering more conservative Democrats. The group spent nearly $750,000 supporting right-wing Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine in the 2022 cycle.

Last year, the super PAC reported just $35 in total contributions.

Axiosreported last year that the organization "plans to raise $20 million to defend a handful of Democratic lawmakers—as well as open-seat candidates—in 2024 primary fights with progressives."

The group was founded by Ty Strong, a former analyst at the U.S. military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Strong is the only person listed on the super PAC's contact page. As The Intercept's Akela Lacy reported last January, Biden's 2020 campaign manager Greg Schultz served as the organization's lone consultant at the time.

Strong claimed in a statement to Politico on Thursday that the new attack ad against Lee was "funded by donations raised recently in Lee's district." Moderate PAC reportedly spent $270,000 on the ad buy.

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