Northwestern Montana now has its very own resident Super PAC. And it's wasted no time in making waves. Special Operations for America, which officially registered with the Federal Election Commission on June 14, received a stern warning from the U.S. Department of Defense last week to stop using trademarked armed forces insignia in its logo.
Special Operations for Americaor SOFAis the latest recruit in the ranks of anti-Obama Super PACs to emerge from the right wing. According to its mission statement, SOFA is primarily devoted to "restoring strong leadership" in the White House, particularly when it comes to national security and the military. Their charge is being led by none other than state Sen. Ryan Zinke, retired U.S. Navy SEAL and running mate of former Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neil Livingstone.
The tipping point, Zinke says, was an April Obama ad featuring President Clinton lauding the killing of bin Laden.
In other words, SOFA formed in response to Obama "politicizing the military for political gain."
SOFA has already allied with a number of military-based political organizations, among them Stand Up America and Veterans for a Strong America. And Zinke isn't the only notable Montana name behind the new group. Former Sen. Conrad Burns and former Brigadier General Paul Vallely are also on the SOFA board. The group may have formed in opposition to Obama, but Zinke insists SOFA will remain respectful of the office of the president.
The Super PAC likely won't spend much of its time opposing Obama in Montana. Instead, Zinke says, SOFA's resources will be devoted to "states that have a large military population. Those happen to be swing states: the Carolinas, Florida, Virginia, Nevada." Zinke wouldn't say whether the group intends to develop any ads for television; he did say SOFA will have a strong "ground game." According to the Super PAC's first quarterly report to the FEC, SOFA had a little less than $60 on hand at the end of June. Zinke says they've since had around 2,000 donations, mostly from veterans and active armed service members.
"The reason we picked a Super PAC over other funding vehicles is that with a Super PAC, you can trace every penny," Zinke says.
As for the Department of Defense's complaint, SOFA had removed all trace of military insignia from its site by July 23.