Must Be the Money

The GOP candidates who made it through the invisible primary (the months before any vote has taken place but contenders campaign like crazy) and lasted through Florida can thank super PACs, the shadowy political action committees that can take unlimited donations from corporations and rich donors. Once the primary ends and the general election showdown begins, get ready for super PAC spending and donations to skyrocket for both parties. After yesterday’s Federal Election Commission filing deadline, we can now attach concrete numbers and faces to the dark money fueling the 2012 election.  Here’s the scoop on the super PACs you should keep an eye on for the rest of the race (we'll be updating with more stats throughout the day). 


  • Candidate: Barack Obama
  • Total Raised 2011: $4.4 million
  • Percent donations of $25,000 or more: 99 percent
  • Spending in South Carolina (according to ProPublica figures): $96,555 (all on ads opposing Mitt Romney)
  • Spending in Florida: Not reported
  • Donor Notes:
Hollywood loves Obama: Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams together donated $2,150,000 to Priorities USA in 2011. 
— Although this super PAC has been somewhat dormant during the primaries, expect donations to pick up speed as the convention approaches. If they don't, Obama is in real danger    of being hurt by Restoring Our Future's reputation for going in for the kill with negative ad-spending frenzies. 
  • Candidate: Mitt Romney
  • Total Raised 2011: $30.2 million
  • Percent donations of $25,000 or more: 98 percent
  • Spending in South Carolina: $6,142,336
  • Spending in Florida: $4,531,586
The Bain Connection: Romney collected $625,000 from Bain Capital employees in the second half of 2011
74 of the 199 donations from July to the end of the year came in December
Wal-Mart Waltons threw $202,500 into “Restoring Our Future.”
Before Rick Perry entered the race, Texas- based supporter Bob Perry gave $500,000 to the pro-Romney super PAC. In December he added another $500,000 to Restore Our Future’s coffers after a brief flirtation with pro-Perry super PACs.
Bill Koch, formerly of the Koch Brothers, donated $250,000
  • Candidate: Newt Gingrich
  • Total Raised 2011: $2.1 million (pre-Sheldon Adelson)
  • Percent donations of $25,000 or more: 98 percent
  • Spending in South Carolina: $4,480,194
  • Spending in Florida: $14,703,911
  • Donor Notes:
Sheldon Adelson didn't step into the super PAC fray until his $5 million money bombs in South Carolina and Florida, but his family contributed half of "Winning Our Future's donations—totaling $1 million—in 2011.
  • Candidate: Stephen Colbert/Herman Cain
  • Total Raised 2011: $825,475
  • Percent donations of $25,000 or more: 0 percent
  • Spending in South Carolina: $180,200
  • Spending in Florida: $0
— California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom gave $500 to Americans for a Better Tomorrow, saying in a press release yesterday that “I agree with Stephen Colbert and the United States Supreme Court that corporations are living, breathing human beings—except for the living, breathing, and human part. I’m also hoping to get an ambassadorship to Croatia out of it.”
— Former fake White House staff member Bradley Whitford donated $250
— Frumunda Mabalz and Harry Ballsagna donated a generous $1 each to Colbert, while Ibin Yerkinoff of Levittown, Pennsylvania donated $10. 
— In a supplemental memo to the FEC filing, the super PAC treasurer Shauna Polk writes, "Stephen Colbert, President of ABTT, has asked that I quote him as saying, ''Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I'm rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain't one!'' I would like it noted for the record that I advised Mr. Colbert against including that quote"


  • Candidate: Jon Huntsman
  • Total Raised 2011: $2.7 million
  • Percent donations of $25,000 or more: 97 percent
  • Donor Notes:
Jon M. Huntsman Sr.—father of the perennially ignored GOP candidate—donated $1.9 million to his son's super PAC, more than the rest of the 2011 donations combined.