Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday yet again point to the basic problem facing Democrat-friendly super PACs as they struggle to catch up with their GOP counterparts: Wealthy liberals are still not playing the big-money game.
Itís not that high-rolling Democrats have stopped making campaign donations altogether. If anything, May fundraising totals just filed with the Federal Election Commission suggest that top-tier progressive donors are finally starting to open their checkbooks.
Priorities USA Action, the leading super PAC backing President Barack Obama, collected $4 million in May, not too much less than the $4.96 million raised by Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The Priorities USA Action haul represents a big jump over the $1.6 million the group raised in April and looks even more impressive when compared with the measly $58,815 that the super PAC netted in January. June, moreover, is already turning out to be ďa stronger month than May,Ē a Priorities spokeswoman said.
The problem for Democrats is that Priorities USA Action and other Democratic super PACs remain so dramatically outgunned by GOP-friendly outside groups. Restore Our Future, for example, has brought in $66.4 million so far in this election cycle, more than three times the $18.6 million Priorities USA Action has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and public records.
The powerhouse GOP super PAC American Crossroads has pulled in another $34.5 million, and that super PACís affiliated nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, has raised at least $70 million more. (The nonprofit doesnít publicly report its totals, but Crossroads operation organizers disclosed this spring that the two groups had brought in $100 million.)
The big reason Republican-friendly super PACs are so far ahead is the seven- and eight-figure contributions rolling in from billionaires and CEOs in the finance, real estate and oil and gas industries. A dozen donors have each given $1 million or more to Restore Our Future, according to the CRP, and more than one-third of the super PACís take comes from donors in the securities and investments industry.
Top GOP donors include Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who has given $4.8 million to Restore Our Future and another $2.5 million to American Crossroads, the CRP data show. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife will reportedly soon give another $10 million to the pro-Romney super PAC. Last month, Restore Our Futureís donations included $500,000 apiece from Rocco Ortenzio, executive chairman of Select Medical, a hospital holding company in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Warren Stephens, president, chairman and CEO of Stephens Inc., a financial services firm in Little Rock, Ark.
By contrast, the biggest donation to Priorities USA Action is $2 million from DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Additionally, the Democratic super PAC has received a handful of donations of $1 million or more, two of them from labor unions. The latest public disclosures show three new $1 million donors: Franklin Haney, CEO of the real estate and investment firm FLH Co.; Steve Mostyn, a lawyer with the Texas-based Mostyn Law Firm, and Barbara Stiefel, a Florida retiree and major Democratic donor.
But still largely missing are the liberal philanthropists and executives who showered $396 million in unrestricted contributions on 527s in the 2004 elections, according to the CRP data. These include investor George Soros, insurance executive Peter Lewis, film producer Stephen Bing and former banking industry CEO Herb Sandler and his now-late wife, Marion.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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