A dozen wealthy individuals and corporations — ranging from a Hollywood mogul to Texas billionaires — gave more than half the money flowing to the biggest outside groups raising unlimited amounts to influence next year's presidential and congressional races, a USA TODAY analysis shows.Republican-affiliated groups outraised Democratic groups by more than 2-to-1, the review found, demonstrating the willingness of Republican donors to write big checks to deny President Obama a second term. Overall, seven major groups took in $23.7 million during the first half of the year, with a combined $12.1 million coming from just 12 people and companies.
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg led the way among Democrats, giving $2 million in May to Priorities USA Action, a group run by former Obama aides.
Presidential candidates cannot collect more than $2,500 from an individual for a primary or general election, yet allies of Republican Mitt Romney collected four checks of $1 million each this year for Restore Our Future, a super PAC created to help Romney win the presidency. Overall, the group has raised $12.3 million, dwarfing what Romney's rivals collected for their official campaign committees, Federal Election Commission records show.
Supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is weighing entering the Republican race, collected $193,000 through a group named Americans for Rick Perry. The top donor: Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who gave $100,000 on June 27, 10 days after Perry signed legislation allowing Simmons' company to accept low-level radioactive waste from other states at its West Texas facility.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, "There's no coordination whatsoever between us and any other third-party group that's supporting the governor," he said. Furthermore, Perry has "made no decision on whether he's going to run or not."
Simmons declined an interview request.
In the 2004 presidential campaign, Simmons helped bankroll Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that challenged Democratic nominee John Kerry's record during the Vietnam War. Other Swift Boat donors giving to super PACs this year include Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who gave $500,000 each to American Crossroads, a Republican group started last year, and Restore Our Future.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Super PAC Dozen
At USA Today Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars report on Super PACs: