Top super PAC donors giving multimillions in 2012

GOP, Republican, Democratic, campaign funds, fundraising, super PAC, money AP

AP
(CBS News) Super PACs, the political action committees permitted to accept and spend unlimited sums of money, are revealing an ever-widening roster of mega-donors. Through August, more than 60 donors gave at least $1 million to super PACs, which are required to disclose their donors' names and amounts.

At least 26 people or companies gave $1 million or more to the main super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, which had raised a cumulative $97 million by the end of August and spent $90 million. Its donor list included 25 billionaires.

At least 16 people or labor unions gave at least $1 million or more to the main super PAC supporting President Obama, Priorities USA Action, which had raised $43 million through August and spent $35 million. At least three billionaires gave to the pro-Obama group.

Super PACs supporting various candidates and causes have already spent a combined $270 million during Campaign 2012, according to the Center For Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation, two non-profit research organizations tracking the money flow.

The Super PAC with the most money in the bank entering September was American Crossroads, the Republican-backing group co-founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. It had $32 million cash on hand, or quadruple the funds of the next most cash-rich group, House Majority PAC, which supports Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Each of the nation's three leading super PAC donors - Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, and Bob Perry - are conservatives who have contributed double-digit millions to a number of groups. They are soon to be joined by Joe Ricketts, who has stated he would spend $10 million of his fortune on political advertising this campaign season. A spokeswoman confirmed today that Ricketts did give another $10 million this month to Ending Spending Fund, a super PAC he founded.

As eye-popping as some of these donation totals may be, they do not include additional contributions by many of these donors to candidates' campaigns, to political parties, or to non-profits not required to disclose their donors. The latter category includes three conservative groups -- Americans For Prosperity, which has already spent $30 million on election activities, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Club For Growth Action, which have each spent $13 million.

Here are the top 20 super PAC donors based on a CBS News review of their reports to the Federal Election Commission:

1. Sheldon Adelson & Family. Total: $37.5 million

Adelson is CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Billionaire Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave pro-Romney Restore Our Future $10 million in June. During the primary campaign, the Adelsons and their children bet heavily on Newt Gingrich, giving pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future $21.5 million; $5 million was refunded in May. The Adelsons are gave $5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, $5 million to the YG Action Fund, which supports conservative "young guns" running for office, and $1 million to Freedom PAC, which supports Florida Congressman Connie Mack's run for the U.S. Senate.

2. Harold Simmons/Contran. Total: $18.7 million

Simmons is CEO of Dallas-based holding company Contran Corp. and publicly-traded Valhi.

Billionaire Simmons and his company, Contran, gave $13 million to pro-Republican American Crossroads, $1.1 million to pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future, $1.1 million to two groups supporting Texas Governor Rick Perry, and $800,000 to the pro-Romney Restore Our Future. His wife, Annette, gave $1.2 million to pro-Rick Santorum Red White and Blue Fund. Simmons also gave $1.5 million to a pair of groups which promoted the U.S. Senate candidacy of Texas Republican David Dewhurst, who lost the primary to Ted Cruz - Conservative Renewal and the Texas Conservatives Fund - and $25,000 to Strong Utah, which supports Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

3. Bob Perry. Total: $15.9 million

Perry is a Houston-based homebuilder and president of Perry Homes.

Perry gave $8 million to pro-Romney Restore Our Future and $6.5 million to American Crossroads. He also gave $1 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, focused on electing Republicans to Congress, $300,000 to the Texas Conservatives Fund, which promoted the U.S. Senate candidacy of Texas Republican David Dewhurst, who lost the primary to Ted Cruz, and $100,000 to Make Us Great Again, a super PAC supporting Texas Governor Rick Perry.

4. Peter Thiel. Total: $4.7 million

Thiel is CEO of Clarium Capital Management, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Billionaire Thiel gave $2.6 million to pro-Ron Paul Endorse Liberty and $135,000 to pro-Paul Revolution PAC. He also gave $2 million to Club For Growth Action, which advocates for lower taxes.

5. Robert Rowling. Total: $4.13 million

Rowling is president of TRT Holdings, a Texas firm which owns Omni Hotels and Gold's Gyms.

Billionaire Rowling and his company gave $4 million to pro-Republican American Crossroads, $100,000 to pro-Romney Restore Our Future, and $35,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund, which promoted the U.S. Senate candidacy of Texas Republican David Dewhurst, who lost the primary to Ted Cruz.

  • Phil Hirschkorn

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