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Mitt Romney's Fundraising Boost Stems From Unique Tactic

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Sen. John Thune makes phone calls Friday for Mitt Romney at the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign office in Springfield, Va. Thune has helped Romney raise money by attending fundraisers for Romney Victory Inc., a joint fundraising committee.

Fueling Mitt Romney’s fundraising surge has been a widely used but less understood tool enabling supporters to direct more money to his presidential effort than federal limits would suggest possible.

Individuals are limited to contributions of $2,500 to Romney for President and $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. But through the Romney Victory Inc. joint fundraising committee, which raised $140 million in the second quarter, maxed-out Romney and RNC donors can contribute to the Republican parties of Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont. There, the money will await redistribution to state parties in presidential battlegrounds as determined by team Romney and the RNC.

“It’s a way to help more within a legal framework,” said a Washington-based Republican fundraiser who is not affiliated with the Romney campaign.

Also included in the Romney Victory joint fundraising committee are the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in part because donors who work in the finance industry are legally prohibited from donating to entities, such as state parties, that might fund or support the political activities of officials elected at the state level. Accordingly, portions of contributions to Romney Victory could flow to the NRCC and NRSC in the months ahead.

Romney Victory reported expenditures of $82.6 million during the second quarter and ended June with $57.7 million in cash on hand. During the same period, the committee’s expenditures included transfers of $68.8 million to participating committees, including $15.7 million to Romney for President, $53 million to the RNC and $20,000 each to the Republican parties of Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont.

Republican fundraisers and GOP sources with experience on presidential campaigns expect these four state parties to serve as conduits for possibly millions of dollars, collectively, between now and the Nov. 6 elections. These states are not competitive — Romney will easily win Idaho and Oklahoma, and President Barack Obama will cruise in Massachusetts and Vermont — and as such have virtually no use for the extra money.

That, and the close relationship the Romney campaign has with leaders of these state parties, is why they were chosen for the joint fundraising committee. This arrangement gives team Romney and the RNC maximum control and flexibility to direct money to the states of their choice throughout the fall. State parties in contested battlegrounds that need the money might spend it on activities not approved by team Romney in Boston or the RNC, while a poorly managed party might squander the funds altogether.

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