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HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Death Star Moves Into Position

First Posted: 02/17/2012 6:12 pm Updated: 02/17/2012 6:20 pm

The Death Star takes position: In the past few days, Mitt Romney's super PAC has reported big spending totals against their newest opponent former Sen. Rick Santorum. After firing more than $17 million in negative advertisements at Newt Gingrich they have adjusted strategy and have announced a total of $1.25 million in negatives ads aimed at Santorum in a total of five states. The $1.25 million in negative ads is four times the amount that Santorum had faced in negative super PAC ads up to this point. Can anyone survive an assault from the Death Star?*

After a year in which the presidential candidates and super PACs reported their finances quarterly we have finally moved into the period where they will report their funds on a monthly basis. The first monthly reports are due on Monday and will cover the month of January.

Already, the campaign of President Barack Obama released their report showing that they raised $11.86 million in January. Earlier the campaign tweeted that they had combined with the DNC to raise $29.1 million. That leaves the DNC with receipts of $17.3 million. The Obama Victory Fund, the big money vehicle Obama uses to raise money for both his campaign and the DNC, also released its January report.

Some notable names giving to the Obama Victory Fund: Craig Newmark, Vivica A. Fox, Allan Houston, Berry Gordy, Nick Cannon, Warren Buffett, Fred Eychaner, Steve Westly, Suze Orman, and Deepak Chopra.

The campaign reports also show expenses along with contributions. The Obama report shows a huge surge in online advertising by the campaign in January. The campaign spent $4.26 million in January compared to $5.07 million for all of 2011. Their spending in January also topped the combined amount spent on online ads by all of the Republican candidates in 2011.

The DCCC continues its amazing fundraising run with receipts reaching above $6 million for January. They say that is the most they have ever raised in the month of January. The DSCC pulled in more than $5 million. The NRSC raised $4.19 million.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald reports on the media-bullying tactics of Frank VanderSloot, a billionaire donor to Mitt Romney's super PAC who runs the multi-level marketing company Melaleuca. Greenwald writes, "Numerous journalists and bloggers in Idaho -- who want to write critically about VanderSloot's vast funding of right-wing political causes -- are petrified even to mention his name for fear of these threats. As his work on the Romney campaign brings him national notoriety, he is now aiming these tactics beyond Idaho. To allow this scheme to continue -- whereby billionaires can use their bottomless wealth to intimidate ordinary citizens and media outlets out of writing about them -- is to permit the wealthiest in America to thuggishly shield themselves from legitimate criticism and scrutiny."

Santorum, Romney, and their respective super PACs are in a fight for air time in the battleground of Michigan.

Sheldon Adelson is going to dump another $10 million into the Newt Gingrich super PAC. This is, according to Business Insider, a game of thrones move based in Machiavelli's philosophy of power. "The 15th century Italian political philosopher wrote that when there is a battle for the throne, it's best to get behind someone. If that candidate wins, you will be rewarded for your loyalty. But if a rival wins, that's even better -- the rival will have exaggerated your importance so much that he will want make sure you never support anyone else again."

What can the leaked documents of a conservative nonprofit group tell us about how nonprofits operate in elections while avoiding disclosure requirements?

A super PAC that formed to advance candidates of Asian and Pacific Islander descent is firing a salvo at Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra for his Asian-baiting Super Bowl ad.

*hat tip to Buzzfeed for giving the Death Star nickname to Restore Our Future.

AD WATCH

Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Committee: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Candidate Opposed: Jon Tester
Spot: "Families Pay"
Market: Montana.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Candidate Opposed: Sherrod Brown
Spot: "Nine Percent"
Market: Ohio.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: American Bridge 21st Century
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "POP UP VIDEO: Romney's 'Growing Up'"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Barack Obama for President
Spot: "El historial del Presidente Obama sobre el tema de los trabajos"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Democratic National Committee
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "The Olympic Bailout"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Red White And Blue Fund
Candidate Supported: Rick Santorum
Spot: "Bold Plan"
Market: Michigan.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: American Bridge 21st Century
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Detroit is Back No Thanks to Mitt"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Mitt Romney for President
Spot: "Stimulus Anniversary"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: National Republican Senatorial Committee
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "3 Years Is Up, Mr. President. We Can't Afford Another 4"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

TRACKING INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Newt Gingrich (R), $5,494,467 to support, $17,409,447 to oppose. (Support: $268,090 Oppose: +$114,850)
Mitt Romney (R), $2,216,953 to support, $5,073,236 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $3,087,803 to support, $1,656,584 to oppose. (Support: $807,477 Oppose: +$373,095)
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R),$3,680,027 to support, $133,333 to oppose. (+$374)
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $280,416 $287,153 to support, $760,389 to oppose.
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

Restore Our Future, $97,977 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Alabama.
Restore Our Future, $41,135 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Oklahoma.
Restore Our Future, $49,398 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Mississippi.
Restore Our Future, $182,198 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Tennessee.
Restore Our Future, $114,850 to oppose Newt Gingrich for President in Georgia.
Winning Our Future, $206,390 to support Newt Gingrich for President.
Winning Our Future, $61,700 to support Newt Gingrich for President in North Carolina.
Red White And Blue Fund, $807,476 to support Rick Santorum for President in Michigan.
Endorse Liberty, $373 to support Ron Paul for President.
FreedomWorks for America, $11,556 to oppose Richard Lugar for Senate in Indiana.
FreedomWorks for America, $10,500 to support Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
House Majority PAC, $97,673 to oppose Tom Lathan for Congress in Iowa's Third District.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS

Congressional Elections PAC, Charleston, S.C., Treasurer: Jonathan Martin. (Super PAC)

Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

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