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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Super PACs: Donors and Ads

USA Today reports that just a few donors account for about a quarter of Super PAC money since January 1:
  • Harold Simmons "and his holding company, Contran, gave $12 million to American Crossroads, a super PAC affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove. He donated $2.2 million more to three super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates."
  • In the No. 2 slot: [Sheldon] Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who gave $10 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC aiding former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
  • "Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal, who donated $2.6 million to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC helping Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. ... Thiel is the single largest donor to Endorse Liberty, which has spent more than $3 million — mostly on Internet ads — to advance Paul's candidacy. "Men and women who want freedom and growth should take action," he said. "A good place to start is voting for Ron Paul."
  • "Houston home builder Bob Perry has donated $3.6 million to super PACs since Jan. 1, 2011, including $2.5 million to American Crossroads."

The article adds:

"Without the flow of super PAC money, the Republican race would be over," said Anthony Corrado, a campaign-finance expert at Colby College in Maine. "Super PACs have become a vehicle for a very small number of millionaires and billionaires who are willing to spend large sums in pursuit of their political agenda." 
The New York Times offers its take:
About two dozen individuals, couples or corporations have given $1 million or more to Republican super PACs this year, an exclusive club empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings to pool their money into federal political committees and pour it directly into this year’s presidential campaign.

Collectively, their contributions have totaled more than $50 million this cycle, making them easily the most influential and powerful political donors in politics today. They have relatively few Democratic counterparts so far, with most of the leading liberal donors from past years giving relatively small amounts — or not at all — to the Democratic super PACs.

And unlike in past years, when wealthy donors of both parties donated chiefly to groups that were active in the general election campaign, the top Republican donors are contributing money far earlier, in contests that will determine the party’s presidential nominee.

“What unites them? They’re economic conservatives,” said Christopher J. LaCivita, a Republican strategist who helped advise Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a forerunner of this cycle’s super PACs, and who in 2008 co-founded another Republican advocacy group, the American Issues Project, that ran advertisements against President Obama.
An AP video on Super PAC advertising: