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HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Democratic Convention Finds Corporate, Lobbyist Loopholes

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Despite pledges to keep special interests out of the Democratic National Convention this year, Democrats are already finding ways to collect money from corporations and provide a role for lobbyists at the convention in Charlotte. The Los Angeles Times reports, "But even as Democrats tout the three-day event in September as a populist gathering, organizers have found ways to skirt the rules and give corporations and lobbyists a presence at the nominating convention. That suggests they can't raise the $37 million for the political extravaganza without at least some help from moneyed interests. ... Despite the ban on corporate money, for example, convention officials have encouraged corporate executives to write personal checks, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. And they have suggested that corporations can participate by donating goods and services to the convention, and by giving up to $100,000 through a corporate foundation."

The Wall Street Journal boasts a profile of Bill Burton, the former White House aide behind the flagging pro-Obama super PAC. The group has had difficulty raising money for a host of reasons. Record executive David Geffen, "doesn't contribute to [super PACs] or approve of them." Former Clinton donors "seek White House perks that Mr. Obama won't dispense." Susie Tomkins Buell, a friend of Hillary Clinton, says, "I haven't seen enough of the leadership that we need."

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, has made a huge turnaround from the debt left over from the Michael Steele era. The party committee has retired half of its debt and raised $110 million in the past 15 months restoring it to a position of relevance in the coming presidential campaign.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gave $25,000 to an anti-incumbent super PAC that was spending money in a Republican primary election to defeat Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.). Cantor had endorsed Manzullo's opponent, freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who won the race. The contribution provides another example of how super PACs can provide sneaky ways for the powerful, wealthy, and elected officials to influence elections to their desired outcome.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) raises money by making fun of raising money in an e-mail touting support from "People in Stock Photos for Al Franken."

Conservative independent groups are spending millions attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in his re-election bid. As one AFL-CIO official told HuffPost, "In our view, it is really about Rove and others trying to put more Democratic Senate seats in play, forcing Democrats to spend money."

A Republican outside group has asked for a stay on a district court ruling issued last Friday that called Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules blocking disclosure of donor names to certain election ads invalid. The effort is an attempt to block the ruling from going into effect.

Sen. Scott Brown continues to raise big bucks for his race against Democrat Elizabeth Warren. In the first quarter of 2012 he raised $3.4 million.

The Texas Observer has an obituary for Bernard Rappaport, a major political donor to the Democratic Party and Democratic politicians.

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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), $13,014,518 to support, $18,885,161 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $7,548,235 to support, $20,914,763 to oppose.
Mitt Romney (R), $3,054,324 to support, $6,655,264 to oppose. (+$25,000)
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R), $3,748,218 to support, $214,158 to oppose.
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $282,298 to support, $979,322 to oppose.
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

National Rifle Association of America Political Fund, $51,117 to oppose Dick Lugar for Senate in Indiana.
National Rifle Association of America Political Fund, $51,117 to support Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
Lawrence F. DeGeorge, $25,000 to support Mitt Romney for President.
Citizens for Prosperity in America Today (Sen. Pat Toomey), $119,430 to support Chris Reilly for Congress in Pennsylvania's 19th District.
FreedomWorks for America, $15,153 to support Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
FreedomWorks for America, $16,851 to oppose Dick Lugar for Senate in Indiana.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS

NONE.

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