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GOP 2010 Joint Committee Got Large Checks

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Freshman Rep. Rick Crawford was one of the top recipients of campaign funds from a joint fundraising committee set up by Republican leaders in the waning days of the 2010 campaign. The committee gave Crawford $44,357 in September and October.

Almost $545,000 of this money was later divvied up among 16 challengers who won in 2010, while an additional $147,000 went to four newly elected Senate candidates who unseated Democrats. In all, the committee helped fund 20 close races where the Republican candidates won their seats by an average of just 52.9 percent of the vote.

In addition to helping swing the balance of power toward the Republicans in 2010, the Founders Joint Candidate Committee also gave more than half a million dollars to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and five other GOP committees including the leadership PACs of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

The Founders Joint Candidate Committee appears to be the brainchild of Richmond, Va.-based Benedetti & Farris, which received almost $140,000 from the committee for fundraising consulting fees and expenses.

Benedetti & Farris also began working for an organization called Founders Joint Candidate Committee II on Election Day. Tom Benedetti declined to comment for this story.

The use of joint fundraising committees to raise big checks has blossomed in recent years. During the 2006 midterm elections, joint fundraising committees collected 1,100 donations of $10,000 or more. During the 2010 elections that number swelled to more than 2,100 contributions in excess of $10,000.

Likewise, the number of joint fundraising committees has more than doubled — rising from 346 groups with receipts of $56 million in 2006 to 817 committees that pulled in nearly $92.6 million during the 2010 elections.

Wertheimer says one of the only things that keeps these huge checks from getting even bigger are federal contribution limits that cap the amount that an individual can give to candidates and party committees during a two-year cycle.

“Without them, you could give money to all candidates and all party committees and wind up being a million-dollar donor,” he said.

On Thursday the FEC officially announced the new limits for the 2012 election cycle, which were increased to meet inflation. Through the end of 2012 an individual can give a total of $117,000 in hard money to campaigns, federal parties and political action committees. Of that, a person can give a maximum of $46,200 to all federal candidates and $70,800 to PACs and parties during the two-year cycle.

One person who appears to be acutely aware of these limits is Nazari, who did not return phone calls seeking comment. In addition to giving the Founders Joint Candidate Committee $80,300, he also gave the maximum of $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $2,400 to the House campaign of Rob Steele (R-Mich.) and another $2,400 to Fiorina Victory Committee — a joint fundraising committee for 2010 Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (Calif.).

These contributions bring him exactly to the maximum of $115,500 to all candidates, PACs and parties for the two-year 2010 election cycle. With a little help from the Founders Joint Candidate Committee, Nazari attained the feat in just four months.

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