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Campaign Finance

Pro-Obama super PAC outpaces GOP counterpart

Rachael Marcus Oct 22, 2012

Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney’s candidacy, doubled its fundraising total in September. It took in $14.8 million, but was still outraised by the pro-President Barack Obama Priorities USA Action, which raised $15.3 million for the month.

The totals show a reversal of a trend — Republicans to date have fared better at raising money for outside groups, though Romney still has American Crossroads, a well-funded super PAC, and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit, in his corner. Restore Our Future brought in $7 million in August.

Most of the major super PACs had until Saturday at midnight to file monthly reports with the Federal Election Commission on September’s fundraising activities. Meanwhile, J. Joe Ricketts, whose conservative Ending Spending Action Fund super PAC said it would launch a $12 million ad campaign this fall, gave a whopping $11.5 million to the group. Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, was the only donor to the PAC, which finished the month with $5.9 million in the bank.

Anti-Obama “Ending Spending” ads have just recently begun airing. Of the $12 million, $10 million will be directed toward helping Romney, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal last month. Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who shows no signs of closing his checkbook, gave $3.5 million to super PACs in September, including $2 million more to Restore Our Future. The donation brings his total giving to more than $10 million to the super PAC.

Fellow Texan Harold Simmons, another top super PAC donor, came through with $500,000 to the pro-Romney super PAC. Restore Our Future finished September with $16.6 million cash on hand, far more than Priorities USA Action, with $7.3 million. Priorities USA brought in $15.3 million in September, a $5.2 million increase from its August earnings. Among its largest donations for the month:

  • $2 million from super donor Fred Eychaner of Newsweb Corp.;
  • $1.5 million from super donor James Simons of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies;
  • $1.2 million from Slim-Fast founder S. Daniel Abraham;
  • $1 million from Hollywood director Steven Spielberg;
  • $1 million from Dreamworks Animation’s  Jeffrey Katzenberg;
  • $1 million from the United Auto Workers Education Fund;
  • $1 million from Donald and Shelley Rubin of health insurer MultiPlan Inc.

Majority PAC, a super PAC backing Democrats for the U.S. Senate, received contributions from many of the same donors. Simons gave $1.5 million; Eychaner gave $1 million; the UAW Education Fund gave $700,000. Working for Working Americans, a public sector union-affiliated committee, gave $1 million. Majority PAC took in four times as much in September as it did in August, with a monthly haul of $10.4 million. It finished September with $6.9 million cash on hand.

Eychaner and Simons also gave big to House Majority PAC, which supports Democrats running for U.S. House. Eychaner came through with $1 million and Simons with $500,000. The American Postal Workers Union also gave a half-million. House Majority PAC took in $5.8 million total in September, finishing the month with $5.7 million on hand.

American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC co-founded by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, took in $11.7 million in September, an increase from its August take of $9.4 million. Super donor Simmons came through with $2.5 million, followed by the JWC III Revocable Trust with $1.25 million. It was not immediately clear who controls the JWC III Revocable Trust. Jay Bergman of Petco Petroleum Corp. gave $1 million. The Armstrong Group, a telecommunications firm, provided $1.3 million in in-kind contributions in the form of “cable access.”

Club for Growth Action, a conservative, free-market super PAC, received $2 million in contributions, a leap from August’s $589,000. Homebuilder Perry was a top donor in September, giving $1 million. The super PAC finished the month with $2.6 million on hand.

The conservative super PAC FreedomWorks for America, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, took in $3.2 million in September, more than three times what it received in August. The contributions were almost exclusively in small amounts, with the exception of $143,000 in in-kind contributions from the super PAC’s non-disclosing sister nonprofit, FreedomWorks Inc. FreedomWorks for America finished September with $703,000 cash on hand.

In other outside spending news:

  • Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action reported spending $1.25 millionon anti-Romney ads. The super PAC also released “Sarah,” over the weekend, knocking Romney’s economic policies.  
  • Pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future reported spending $1.4 million on anti-Obama ads.  
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $5.1 million. Among its spending were three ads: “Working for Washington,” which opposes Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., “It’s Time to Send Him Home,” which opposes Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, and “Linda McMahon Makes Sense for Connecticut,” which supports the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the state.  
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee reported spending $9.3 million supporting House Republicans and opposing House Democrats.  
  • Club for Growth Action reported spending $2.2 million opposing Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Ohio, Arizona and Indiana. It released “Green,” which opposes Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.  
  • House Majority PAC, a super PAC backing House Democrats, reported spending $1.4 million.  
  • Crossroads GPS, a conservative nonprofit, reported spending $1.1 million on the presidential, House and Senate races.  
  • Majority PAC, a super PAC backing Senate Democrats, reported spending $1.1 million.  
  • The 60 Plus Association, a conservative nonprofit, reported spending $920,000 on ads opposing U.S. Senate and House candidates in Arizona, North Dakota and New York. It released an ad opposing two Democratic candidates for U.S. House in Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema and Ann Kirkpatrick.  
  • The NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the nonprofit arm of the National Rifle Association, reported spending $3.9 million on numerous candidates. It released the ad “One Vote” opposing Obama.  
  • The Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC, released Spanish and English versions of “Closer Look,” which opposes Rep. Pete Gallego, R-Texas; “Folks,” which opposes Rep. Mike McIntrye, D-N.C., “I Will,” which opposes Rep. Kathy Hochul, R-N.Y., and “Busy Betty,” which opposes Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio.  
  • Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative nonprofit, released “B” opposing Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., and “Bankrupt” opposing Rep. Ben Chandler, Ky.-6.

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