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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.

“I guarantee the reason they’re asking for those is [because] they can control them,” said a national Republican fundraiser who has previously advised GOP presidential candidates, regarding the Romney campaign’s decision to include the Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont state parties in the joint fundraising committee.

“If too much went to Ohio, they would not share,” added a Republican operative who has contributed to Romney Victory.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee also are using a joint fundraising committee to stockpile and distribute cash. In the second quarter, Obama Victory Fund 2012 raised $76.5 million and spent $71.2 million, closing the period with $9 million in cash on hand. As of June 30, Obama’s joint fundraising committee had raised $221.4 million to date for the cycle, according to its July FEC report.

But in designating state Democratic parties in 10 presidential battlegrounds as joint committee participants, the Obama campaign appears to have made a different strategic calculation regarding resource allocation than the Romney campaign. State party affiliates include those in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The Romney and Obama campaigns both declined to comment. But the president’s campaign did confirm the entities participating in their joint committee, which also include Obama for America and the DNC.

From April 1 to June 30, none of the affiliated state Democratic parties received transfers from Obama Victory Fund 2012. Meanwhile, Romney Victory only began raising money in April, once it became clear the former Massachusetts governor would win the nomination. Republican operatives interviewed for this story say they expected Romney to raise plenty of money but emphasize that even they are surprised at how much he has brought in — and how fast.

“It’s amazing that they’re clipping such big checks,” said the national Republican fundraiser who has advised GOP presidential candidates.

Romney Victory fundraisers offer escalating perks depending on how much an individual or married couple contributes. Large donations are generally distributed among the participating committees this way: The first $2,500 goes to Romney for President’s primary campaign account, the second $2,500 goes to the campaign’s general election account, the next $30,800 goes to the RNC, and the remaining amount is spread to the affiliated state parties or the NRCC and the NRSC.

Campaign finance regulations limit donations to federal candidates and political parties to a maximum of $117,000 per election cycle, including a maximum of $46,200 to candidates and $70,800 to political parties and political action committees. Although Romney Victory accepts contributions at all levels, one of its chief targets is wealthy couples who can afford to give anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 ($25,000 to $35,000 each).

A GOP fundraiser with experience raising money for joint fundraising committees said Romney Victory is an efficient way for the Romney campaign to raise money. This method involves one “ask” and one check and avoids bombarding potential donors with multiple contribution requests. This Republican fundraiser said Romney Victory also has been effective at deploying surrogates to headline joint fundraising committee fundraisers, bolstering the campaign’s ability to raise money without reducing the candidate’s time on the stump.

“Not only can Romney Victory control the money, they can do one event and knock everything out,” the fundraiser said. “They’re making it impossible for you not to give.”

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