One of the most striking characteristics of the 2012 election is the role that a small number of relatively unknown megadonors, via new Super PAC groups, are playing in determining the outcome of the presidential, Senate, and House races.
These organizations — funded by an exclusive group of entrepreneurs, industrialists, and heiresses — have thrown the Moneyball of elections out the window. Super PACs are unaffiliated with any candidate and may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in federal elections. The only caveat is that they cannot under any circumstances (wink, nudge, et al.) coordinate with a campaign.
We looked through the Center for Responsive Politics' database to find the heaviest hitters, and figure out which candidates they support.
American Crossroads will make the single largest dent for Republicans this year
American Crossroads, the brainchild of George W. Bush's strategy guru Karl Rove, is probably the biggest threat Democrats this year. The Super PAC has spent $18.6 million already, and has more cash on hand for this election than almost any other Super PAC out there, with $29.5 million ready to go before November 6th.
They've hit Barack Obama with $15.9 million worth of negative advertising. Other targets include Democrat Tim Kaine, running for Senate in Virginia, Republican Jack Davis, who ran in a complicated election in New York's 26th District, and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley who is running for Senate in Nevada.
Top donors to American Crossroads include:
- $13 million from Harold Simmons, the inventor of the leveraged buyout.
- $4.5 million form Bob Perry, Republican mega donor and owner of Perry Homes.
- $2 million from Jerry Perenchio, the billionaire former CEO of Univision.
- $1.25 million from Joe Craft, a Kentucky businessman who obviously authored his own wikipedia entry.
Restore Our Future is Romney's powerhouse Super PAC
Restore Our Future has spent a whopping $82 million to support Mitt Romney's presidential campaign this cycle, and played a crucial role in helping Romney take out his primary rivals.
Here's the breakdown of the group's spending so far:
- $18.7 million against Newt Gingrich
- $21.3 million against Rick Santorum
- $28.5 million against Barack Obama
- $14 million in support of Mitt Romney
Significantly, Restore Our Future has $20.5 million in the bank at this point. Expect every dime to be spent against Obama.
Here are the biggest donors to the PAC:
- $10 million from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Casino magnate and his wife.
- $7 million from Bob Perry, the Texas Real Estate developer behind Perry Homes
- $1 million each from:
- Oxbow Carbon LLC, owned by the Koch Brothers
- John W. Childs, the buyout investor
- Huron Carbon LLC, owned by the Koch Brothers
- John Kleinheinz, a hedge fund manager
- The Renco Group, a holding group controlled by Ira Rennert
- Paul Singer of Elliot Management Corp, a hedge fund
- Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund
- Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, a hedge fund
- Edward Conard, a former Managing Director at Bain Capital
- ELI Publishing, which is somewhat unknown
- F8 LLC, which is likewise unknown
- John Paulson of Paulson & Co
Priorities USA Action is Obama's mediocre Super PAC
The only major pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA Action has taken the lead in attacking the Romney campaign. The only expenditures Priorities USA Action has made are $27.1 million against the Republican presidential candidate, and the organization hasn't spent anything to promote Obama.
Here are the donors who have given more than $1 million to the PAC
- $2 million from Irwin Mark Jacobs, the co-founder of Qualcomm
- $2 million from Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation
- $1.5 million from Jon Stryker, the billionaire heir to the medical supply Stryker Corporation
- $1.5 million from Fred Eychaner, the founder of Newsweb and an LGBT donor
- $1 million each from the following donors:
- Mel Heifetz, an LGBT activist and entrepreneur
- Morgan Freeman, the actor
- The National Air Traffic Controllers Association
- Kareem Ahmed, CEO of Landmark Medical Management
- The Service Employee International Union Committee on Political Education
- Steve Mostyn, a Houston Lawyer
- Franklin Haney, owner of the Franklin L. Haney Company, a real estate group
- Barbara Stiefel, a Democratic fundraiser
- Bill Maher, comedian
- Amy Goldman, a gardener and real estate heiress
Despite these big-dollar donations, however, Priorities USA Action only has $4.2 million in the bank.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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