WASHINGTON -- As Newt Gingrich gets hit with a daily barrage of negative ads in Iowa from a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid, the former speaker's allies are preparing to mount their own super PAC response. Their hope is that casino magnate and long-term Gingrich backer Sheldon Adelson will give big to finance that effort.
A Thursday afternoon Politico article reported that Adelson was planning to give $20 million to the fast-developing super PAC initiative. That report has since been met with denials from Adelson.
According to a tweet from Las Vegas Sun reporter Jon Ralston, Adelson is planning to support the Gingrich super PAC but not to the tune of $20 million.
The $20 million number was met with astonishment after the Politico article went online. Conservative writer David Frum questioned the multiple anonymous sources mentioned in the piece. "Politico story does feel as if sourced by Gingrich camp, not Adelson camp," Frum tweeted.
"Political groups often talk a big game to appear as menacing as possible as they head into electoral battle," Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told The Huffington Post.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post went up with a quick piece explaining how a $20 million contribution might even be possible. "Thanks to Citizens United and a subsequent court decision, Super PACs can raise unlimited sums, and spend it all advocating directly for or against a candidate, as long as there's no coordination between the Super PAC and the candidate's campaign," Sargent wrote.
But there are few precedents for a donor giving $20 million in a single election cycle, let alone to one organization. The last and only time that it happened was during the 2004 election. Political operatives and donors discovered a loophole in the newly passed McCain-Feingold law that allowed them to funnel millions of dollars into 527 nonprofit groups to run massive grassroots and advertising campaigns. This, combined with a strong desire to defeat President George W. Bush, led to a huge influx of money. Hedge fund billionaire George Soros and insurance titan Peter Lewis each pumped more than $20 million into 527 groups.
Adelson, who is worth more than either Soros or Lewis, currently has three options for supporting Gingrich. In the past month, three super PACs have sprouted up to back the unexpectedly strong contender.
One group formed this week, Winning Our Future, stands the best bet of receiving big money from Adelson. It is led by Becky Burkett, the former fundraiser for Gingrich's now-defunct 527 group American Solutions for Winning the Future. In her role at American Solutions, she surely would have come into contact with Adelson, who was the group's biggest donor, giving $7.7 million. The other two super PACs are Solutions 2012 and Spirit of American Solutions.