Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn starts PAC after losing House run

Harry Dunn, the former Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 and unsuccessfully ran for a House seat in Maryland last month, is starting a new PAC to support candidates running against pro-Trump Republicans.

The group will be called Dunn’s Democracy Defenders, and it aims to stop former President Donald Trump and what Dunn calls “MAGA extremists” in the Republican Party from winning their elections this fall. Dunn plans to endorse candidates up and down the ballot through the group, using his personal story and his fundraising prowess to help in targeted races. 

“The first thing I had to decide when you want to run for office is your why: Why are you doing this, why are you running?” Dunn told NBC News in an interview Tuesday, before he announced his plans Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” 

“My why is to do everything I can to protect the institution of Congress, to fight back against Donald Trump, to defend our Constitution, our democracy,” Dunn continued. “Even though I came up short in the election, there definitely is room for me to continue to fight.” 

The group will inherit the money left over from Dunn’s campaign — though it won’t be clear how much until post-primary fundraising reports are due this summer. 

Dunn, a 15-year veteran of the Capitol Police, says that the mob on Jan. 6 shouted racial slurs at him and attacked him, and he testified about his experience before the House committee investigating the attack and at the seditious conspiracy trial of members of the far-right Oath Keepers. 

It’s against that backdrop that Dunn decided to run for Congress in Maryland this year. Despite his national recognition, endorsements from prominent members of Congress and significant fundraising, the political newcomer fell short to Democratic state Sen. Sarah Elfreth. Elfreth highlighted her legislative record and got a boost from an outside group affiliated with the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In his first run for political office, Dunn raised more than $4.5 million in less than six months, making him one of the best 30 House candidate fundraisers this election cycle to date — including incumbents who have been fundraising for their re-elections since January 2023. That gives Dunn a strong financial platform for his new group.

Dunn said he didn’t have a financial goal in mind and that the group’s plans will depend on what his endorsed candidates need from him. But after his primary, he said he wants to boost Democrats who agree that corporate money doesn’t belong in politics. 

“There was no secret I was a very strong fundraiser — all that came from was my story and my message and my desire to, one, stop MAGA Republicans, and two, to get dark money and MAGA money, these corporate PACs out of free and fair elections. That’s a simple story and it resonates with a lot of people,” he said. 

Dunn is also taking on a more visible role in supporting President Joe Biden’s re-election — joining former fellow police officers who also defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, on the trail with the Biden campaign. 

Asked whether the group could endorse moderate Republicans to oppose Trump-supporting Republicans, Dunn said that he wouldn’t take the concept off the table — but that he doesn’t “see any Republicans on the other side aisle that are standing up to Donald Trump, it’s like they don’t exist anymore.” 

“Donald Trump has surrogates, people in the Republican Party that want to do nothing except downplay, whitewash, diminish, flat out lie about what happened that day,” Dunn said of the Jan. 6 attack. 

“It’s not just regular everyday American citizens. These are elected officials that are whitewashing and saying these things. That’s why it’s so important that we never stop telling our story,” Dunn said.

And he added that while he has no specific office in mind for a potential future bid, he wouldn’t rule out another run.