Draft Biden PAC is gaining steam and staff in its unaffiliated effort to encourage Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to get into the presidential race, but it recently dismissed one of the group’s initial organizers after his past legal problems came to light.
Former congressional aide and campaign consultant Carlos Sierra was national field and political director for Draft Biden , but his resume also includes felony charges in two states. One Democratic insider was interested in getting involved with the Draft Biden effort, but became concerned as it became clear Sierra was involved.
“I remembered the name,” the source said. “I looked him up and got chills.”
Sierra, who is also president of Sierra Public Affairs, pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI, a felony, in a Maricopa County, Ariz., court in summer of 2014, according to the El Paso Times .
A DUI is considered a felony or aggravated DUI when it’s the third conviction within seven years. Sierra was charged with a felony DUI after being accused of allegedly driving under the influence in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January 2013. He told the local media he made poor choices about drinking and driving.
But that’s not all of Sierra’s legal troubles. The 33-year-old was indicted on two counts of indecency with a child in 2012 in Texas , according to the El Paso Times , but the case was dismissed in July. Sierra told the paper the indecency charges were bogus.
A senior adviser to Draft Biden told CQ Roll Call on Oct. 2 that Sierra was no longer with the group.
“Although it seems that all charges were dismissed against Mr. Sierra, his volunteer relationship with Draft Biden has ended,” the senior adviser said after being sent information about Sierra’s legal record. “And at no time was he a paid staffer of the organization.”
Even if Sierra wasn’t paid, he helped organize the Draft Biden 2016 PAC with 27-year-old Executive Director Will Pierce , according to the filing with the Federal Election Commission . The two men worked together at Renegade Public Affairs, where Sierra is a partner, from late 2013 into 2014, consulting for candidates in El Paso.
Pierce has some history with the Bidens, working on advance teams during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, but Sierra seemed like an odd fit for someone trying to boost the vice president’s candidacy. He worked for GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona for nearly a decade, beginning in 2000 and ending in 2009, around the time of his first and second DUI charges .
Despite its beginnings, Draft Biden appears to have started a new, more professional chapter at the beginning of August when it brought on Josh Alcorn, a former adviser to the late Beau Biden, as a senior adviser. “Draft Biden just got real,” according to the MSNBC headline.
Alcorn, who didn’t know Pierce until he “friended” him on Facebook the day he started Draft Biden, is helping expand the effort exponentially by adding paid staff in early primary and caucus states and state coordinators all across the country.
In the beginning, Draft Biden 2016 raised $86,000 and had $16,000 in the bank through June 30. But Alcorn told Reuters the group is now on track to raise $2.5 to $3 million before Biden makes a decision, which could come within the next week, according a CBS News report on Saturday .
Draft Biden isn’t allowed to secure ballot access for the vice president, but it is compiling lists of supporters in each state, which could be valuable to Biden’s official campaign if he decides to get into the race.
“Regardless of timeline questions, plans and preparations are being made by Draft Biden to give the Vice President the space he needs to make critical decisions regarding a potential run for President,” the group said in an Oct. 3 memo to reporters. “Draft Biden has formed the logistical support to immediately back a campaign once a decision is made.”
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