Change of Heart? Hillary Clinton courting potential super PAC donors at California meetings

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Hillary Clinton, just three weeks after blasting "unaccountable money" and calling for a campaign finance overhaul, reportedly met with potential donors to a super PAC backing her White House campaign Wednesday -- the first such face-to-face meetings held by a Democratic presidential candidate.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton met with a small group of potential donors to Priorities USA Action Wednesday in San Francisco. Campaign officials told the paper that she will take part in more such meetings, including one planned to take place in Los Angeles on Thursday.

News of Clinton’s meetings with would-be donors was first reported by The New York Times.

They come after Clinton last month made campaign finance reform a centerpiece of her newly launched campaign. She called for getting "unaccountable money out of [politics] once and for all -- even if it takes a constitutional amendment." The remark was widely seen as a reference to the 2010 Supreme Court cases that opened the door for super PACs.

Jeff Bechdel, spokesman for the conservative America Rising PAC, said in a statement about the former secretary of state's super PAC meetings that "Clinton's hypocrisy knows no bounds."

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    Priorities USA officials have said for months that the group would back Clinton, though it had been unclear how direct her involvement would be. Her campaign told the Associated Press Wednesday that given the aggressive super PAC fundraising among Republicans, Democrats had to have the resources to fight back. Donations to the PACs aren’t subject to the $2,700-per-election cap that limit the size of individual donations to campaigns.

    Democrats have been reluctant to fully embrace super PACs. Though some of President Obama's top advisers appeared at Priorities events during his re-election campaign in 2012, Obama never did. The president has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for the rise of the organizations.

    Clinton sounded a similar tone last month, including in an opinion piece published in the Des Moines Register.

    Federal law bars campaigns from directly coordinating with super PACS. Candidates can appear at events, but cannot directly solicit unlimited donations.

    The front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has been keeping an eye on the money haul in the large Republican field. Her team has been particularly focused on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's aggressive fundraising for his super PAC, Right to Rise.

    Bush is putting off an official campaign launch until late spring or early summer so he can keep courting unlimited contributions from fundraisers. He also plans to outsource many campaign functions to the group, another sign of the evolving role of super PACs.

    Priorities officials have said previously that they planned to stay focused on advertising. While the group lagged its GOP counterparts in fundraising during the 2012 campaign, it garnered attention for its negative advertisements targeting Republican nominee Mitt Romney's business record.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.