Super PACs reveal big donors

GENERIC Money and Washington, campaign finance, cash, money, campaign donation, contributions financing citizens united politics donor CBS

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Updated 6:30 p.m. ET

Like candidate, like super PAC.

The super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's candidacy, "Restore Our Future," raised $30 million in 2011, placing it far ahead of other independent groups created to back other presidential hopefuls. The donations, many of which came from the financial sector, included $1 million each from seven individuals or companies in the last six months of last year.

Restore Our Future's end-of-year filing with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday - after Romney had made his victory speech in the Florida primary - showed that in addition to the $12 million the super PAC raised between last January and June (and previously reported), it raised another $18 million between July and December.

The super PAC spent only $6.5 million in 2011, leaving $23.5 million cash on hand entering 2012.

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Overall, Restore Our Future has spent a total of $17 million through January, according to earlier disclosures made to the FEC, so the pro-Romney super PAC should have $13 million cash on hand, not including additional fundraising in January.

Similarly, the Romney campaign itself reported to the FEC on Tuesday that it had $20 million cash on hand and no debts at the start of the new year, after raising $56 million in 2011.

The Romney campaign's account is worth 20 times what the Newt Gingrich campaign reported - just $2.1 million cash on hand minus $1.2 million in debts, leaving $900,000. However, the Gingrich campaign announced Tuesday that it raised another $5 million in January.

The long-awaited donor list for the pro-Romney super PAC revealed close to 200 individuals and companies donating large amounts to advance the former Massachusetts governor's cause. In the last six months of 2011, there were seven $1 million donors and three at or above $500,000. A dozen donors gave between $200,000 and $250,000, while another 27 gave $100,000.

The $1 million donors to Restore Our Future were financial consultant Robert Mercer, of New York; investment manager Julian Robertson, of New York; hedge fund manager Paul Singer, of New York; the Melaleuca companies, of Idaho; and company Rooney Holdings, of Oklahoma. Miguel Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, of Florida, gave $500,000, and so did MBF Family Investments, listed at the same Miami office suite. The company Oxbow Carbon, of Florida, gave $750,000, and Oxbow President William Koch gave $250,000, bringing their total to $1 million.

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Chris Shumway, an investment manager from Connecticut, gave the pro-Romney group $750,000. Texas homebuilder Bob Perry and private equity manager Steven Webster, of Texas, each gave $500,000.

A pair of Bain Capital executives, John Connaughton, of Massachusetts, and Domenic Ferrante, of Florida, each gave the Super PAC $250,000. Other individuals giving $250,000 included Walter Schlaepfer, a Merrill Lynch financial adviser from Washington state; Tailwind Capital managing partner Frank Sica, from New York; WSJ Properties partner Boyd Smith, of California; businessman Robert Tuttle, of California. Companies giving $250,000 were Paumanok Partners, of Connecticut; Spectrum Laboratory Products, of California; Suffolk Construction, of Massachusetts.

Siblings Jim and Alice Walton, of Arkansas, are both among another 27 donors or couples who gave the pro-Romney group $100,000. So were New York real estate developers Steven Roth and Steven Ross, and Prakesh Melwani, senior managing director of the Blackstone Group, in New York. Steve Barnes, another Bain executive, gave $125,000. Publisher Sam Zell, of Illinois, gave $50,000.

By comparison, the pro-Gingrich super PAC "Winning Our Future" has lagged far behind. It raised only $2 million in 2011. The $10 million from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, did not arrive until January. In 2011, the super PAC had only 18 donors, and four of them were the sources of almost all the money.

The notable pro-Gingrich super PAC donors were Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who gave $500,000. He and his company, Contran, also gave several million dollars to the pro-Rick Perry super PAC and the Republican-backing American Crossroads. Alabama commercial real estate developer W.S. Probst gave Winning Our Future $500,000. And Gingrich has friends besides the Adelsons in Las Vegas: Sivan Ochshorn gave $500,00 as did Yasmin and Oren Lukatz, all listed as self-employed.

The leading pro-Ron Paul super PAC, "Endorse Liberty," raised just over $1 million in 2011 and spent about $400,000. Its main donor was California venture capitalist Peter Thiel, a co-founder of Paypal and the first outside investor in Facebook, who gave $900,000.

The pro-Rick Santorum "Red White and Blue" fund

raised only $730,000, and most of that came from just two donors - $331,000 from Wyoming investor Foster Friess and $250,000 from Pennsylvania doctor John Templeton, Jr., both active in socially conservative causes.

The super PAC formed to boost Rick Perry's presidential run, "Make Us Great Again," raised $5.5 million last year from just 64 donors - 48 of them from Texas. It spent $4 million before folding when Perry's candidacy did. His sole $1 million donor was Contran Corporation, the holding company run by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons. The super PAC had at least 28 donors who gave $100,000 or more, including Texas homebuilder Bob Perry and the super PAC founder, Mike Toomey, a former Perry gubernatorial chief of staff turned Austin lobbyist.

Many of M.U.G.A's donors also gave to the pro-Republican, Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads - chief among them Simmons, who gave $5 million, while Contran dropped another $2 million. Overall, American Crossroads raked in $18 million in 2011.

Tuesday's FEC filings reveal that one wealthy person can truly boost a campaign, as Adelson has done for Gingrich. The FEC report from the pro-Jon Huntsman group "Our Destiny" showed that indeed Jon Huntsman Sr., the candidate's billionaire industrialist father, contributed $1.9 million of the PAC's total $2.6 million spent, or 70 percent of the total take. The super PAC paid for what was for weeks Huntsman's only TV ad in New Hampshire, where he finished third.

Herman Cain, who dropped out of the race even before the Iowa caucuses, did not benefit much from a super PAC formed to support him. The "9-9-9 Fund," named after his flat tax plan, raised only $617,620 and spent only $414,092, according to its FEC filing.

Super PACS, presidential and otherwise, have reported spending close to $45 million to date on Campaign 2012, primarily on advertising, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. There are currently 277 active super PACS registered on the FEC's website.

Laura Strickler and Sarah Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.

  • Phil Hirschkorn

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