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Cubs Co-Owner Laura Ricketts Forms SuperPAC For Lesbian Issues

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Another member of Chicago's Ricketts family is getting involved with a super PAC.

As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, Laura Ricketts is the Cubs co-owner and sister of Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports


She is also a lesbian, and is launching the first ever political action committee devoted to supporting candidates and causes appealing to lesbian voters.

"Being a woman and being gay is really a unique position in our society," said Ricketts, a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's LGBT Leadership Council and one of President Barack Obama's fundraising bundlers. "I know in my experience of activism, oftentimes it makes a difference if something is women-focused. It's likely to get the attention of women much more easily."

She said she noticed that lesbians are in the minority in political events for gay donors, whether it's a White House reception or a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who hopes to become the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.

LPAC beneficiaries have not been finalized, although candidates such as Baldwin and campaigns to defeat ballot measures that would ban same-sex marriages or restrict access to abortions are likely to be recipients of donations.

However, the group's aim to give lesbians an influential voice in mainstream politics is ground-breaking, said chairwoman Sarah Schmidt, a scion of the family behind Midwest petroleum distributor U.S. Venture Inc.

Unlike the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports gay candidates, and Emily's List, which is dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights, LPAC plans to promote men and women from either major party as well as ballot initiatives.

"In my mind, there really was no downside here," said Schmidt, a management consultant and philanthropist. "If it raises $5 million, amazing. But if it raises $500,000, we have still raised $500,000 for critical races and it's being raised from lesbian leaders whose voices may not have been heard before."

Along with Schmidt and Ricketts, the committee is led by veteran gay rights activist Urvashi Vaid and Alix Ritchie, former publisher of the Provincetown Banner. Jane Lynch and Billie Jean King also have pledged support.

LPAC is starting modestly, with a fundraising goal of $1 million for this year's elections. That figure is far less than the conservative superPAC founded by her father, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

That group stirred up controversy earlier this year, when it considered an ad against President Barack Obama linking him to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retired pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, who once served as Obama's spiritual adviser.

The ad sought to demonstrate that Obama misled America by presenting himself as what the report calls a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln," according to a May New York Times reported.

The ad was scrapped, but not before causing political headaches for the Cubs, and damaging the team's relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel, who is Obama's former chief of staff and a current Obama campaign co-chair, said soon after news of the ad broke in May, "America's too great a country with too great a future for the content they're talking about. And it's insulting to the president, and it's insulting to the country."

Following the news of the planned ad, Mayor Emanuel reportedly cut off communication with the Ricketts family, who had been seeking tax support from the city for renovations at Wrigley Field.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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