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K Street Files: Giffords PAC Hires Seasoned Strategists

An A-list of seasoned Democratic strategists will head the Washington office of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the new gun safety group and super PAC set up by ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly.

Former Giffords Chief of Staff Pia Carusone is the group’s executive director. Peter Ambler, who was the congresswoman’s top legislative aide, is on board as strategic director. And former Giffords development director Hayley Zachary will play the same role with the new group.

Jen Bluestein, former director of research and communications at EMILY’s List, the Democratic women’s political action committee, is a senior adviser. The group is also getting consulting help from ex-Giffords campaign manager Rodd McLeod and from digital media strategist Tim Tagaris. And campaign strategists Jason Ralston and J.J. Balaban are helping out, as is Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg.

“We know how to win elections,” Carusone said. “We are tried and true operatives in that sense.”

Americans for Responsible Solutions will operate both as a social welfare advocacy group and as a super PAC, Carusone said, engaging in issue education and also intervening in elections. On the eve of the State of the Union address, the group released a TV ad featuring Giffords telling viewers: “Congress must act.”

The Giffords group has received $1 million from Texas trial lawyer and Democratic donor Steve Mostyn, who is serving as the super PAC’s treasurer. Americans for Responsible Solutions has raised another $1.5 million in online contributions and reportedly has a $20 million fundraising target. Mostyn’s was “the first of many generous contributions” to the group in the six- and seven-figure range, Carusone said.

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