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.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.