"I am not for sale," says Nina Turner as billionaire-funded super PAC backs opponent

"See, there is a clear difference in this race. One of the candidates in this primary is for sale," Turner says

Published April 18, 2022 11:59PM (EDT)

Nina Turner (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Nina Turner (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

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Congressional candidate Nina Turner declared Friday that she is "not for sale" and suggested her primary opponent, Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown, is after federal filings revealed that a billionaire-funded super PAC has spent more than $1 million in support of the incumbent in Ohio's 11th District.

"See, there is a clear difference in this race. One of the candidates in this primary is for sale," Turner, a former Ohio state senator, wrote on Twitter. "I am not for sale. Cleveland is not for sale."

Turner, who has pledged to reject campaign cash from lobbyists and corporate PACs, was responding to reporting from The Intercept spotlighting the financial support Brown has received from Protect Our Future, a super PAC launched this year with the backing of cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures show that Protect Our Future—which reportedly plans to pour $10 million into Democratic primaries this cycle—has spent more than $1 million over just the past week on ads in support of Brown's campaign.

In a statement on Thursday, Turner's campaign accused Brown of failing to "bring a single penny home" to Cleveland—part of Ohio's 11th Congressional District and the poorest big city in the U.S.—but managing to "flag down dark money that will be used to attack Nina Turner."

"All over the country, the flood of corporate money into electoral politics is corrupting our democracy," said Kara Turrentine, Turner's campaign manager. "Sadly, right here in Ohio 11, those same corrupt interests are pumping money into campaigns and super PACs because they know Nina Turner and progressives like her aren't going to Washington to be a partner with them."

"Let's be clear, those corporate interests don't make donations, they make investments," Turrentine added. "And they expect a return on those investments."

The May 3 Democratic primary in Ohio's 11th Congressional District is a rematch of a heated special election that took place less than a year ago. Brown, backed by a torrent of corporate cash and prominent members of the Democratic establishment, defeated Turner by around 6%.

At the time of the 2021 race, the largest donor to Democratic Majority for Israel—a super PAC that spent big against Turner—was an oil and gas executive.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) PAC stirred outrage by endorsing Brown, a member of both the CPC and the corporate-friendly New Democrat Coalition. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the CPC, endorsed Turner over Brown in last year's special election.

The CPC PAC's endorsement of Brown came just a day after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,—the lone Senate member of the CPC—formally endorsed Turner, praising her as "a real leader who fights for higher wages, Medicare for All, and affordable prescription drugs."

"With Nina, we know that she will not be afraid to take on the corporate interests that are driving up the price of gas, food, and just about everything else," Sanders said in a statement. "Nina knows the job is more than just voting the right way. It's about leadership."

By Jake Johnson

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