Ex-Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn launches pro-democracy group

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Ex-Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn launches pro-democracy group

Former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn is launching a new political group Wednesday aimed at supporting pro-democracy candidates while targeting former President Trump and “anti-democracy MAGA extremists.” 

Dunn is launching a hybrid political action committee called Dunn’s Democracy Defenders that will support candidates across the ballot “who will protect democracy from MAGA and help get big money out of our politics,” according to a press release of his announcement, while targeting “insurrectionists” and others who are a threat to democracy. 

In a statement upon launching the new group, Dunn notably targeted both those working to undermine democracy and special money interests. 

“Our democracy hangs in the balance. MAGA extremists are trying to end our democracy. Giant super PACs want to buy our democracy so it only works for them. Now more than ever, our democracy needs Defenders,” Dunn said in a statement.  

Dunn became a household name as one of the many Capitol Police officers who defended lawmakers during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. He testified in 2022 before the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack about the efforts he and others took to defend the Capitol while it was being breached.

Dunn’s announcement comes just two weeks after he unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for outgoing Rep. John Sarbanes’s (D-Md.) seat in the 3rd Congressional District in Maryland. He lost the primary to state Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D).  

“My goal was clear that I wanted to fight and preserve our Constitution and fight for our democracy,” Dunn told The Hill in a previous interview, explaining why he ran for Congress.

“Being able to run and run my race, I learned a lot. I saw a lot. I saw how our elections work. I saw the forces at play to have their voices heard over citizens,” Dunn explained about running his congressional race. “And I thought, ‘Hey, let’s continue to do this because the only way we preserve our democracy is by having individuals that are democracy fighters, fighters for democracy …”

Dunn declined to say which candidates he would be supporting or targeting ahead of the 2024 election and said he did not have a specific timeline of when that would be shared but noted, “we are coming up on election season, so we definitely want to move fast.” 

He told The Hill that no race was too big or small for him to get involved in.  

A hybrid PAC, also known as a Carey Committee, maintains two different bank accounts: One gives to candidates and is subject to contribution limits, while a second is for independent expenditures that can receive an unlimited amount of money from groups and individuals.  

Dunn was outspoken about the role a super PAC aligned with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) played in his primary when it backed Elfreth. He wrote on social platform X ahead of his primary, “A SuperPAC funded by MAGA extremist donors who also gave to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Lauren Boebert just dropped $500k in our race. They want to buy this election. They will fail.” 

Asked if the “Giant super PACs want to buy our democracy” he was referring to in his announcement included AIPAC, he said it wasn’t subject to just the pro-Israel group. 

Dunn also emphasized that the group was a “grassroots effort” when asked what he would say to skeptics who might see the group as just another one putting money into politics given that the hybrid PAC includes elements of a PAC and super PAC. 

“… I set fundraising and broke fundraising record, and all of it was due to average individuals,” Dunn said of his congressional run. “And that’s what I continue to seek out with this PAC.”