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HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- The GOP Establishment Strikes Back

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Much has been made about how Citizens United and the super PACs spawned by a subsequent court decision have empowered candidates outside of a party's mainstream. The Republican establishment, however, is also using those tools provided by the court rulings to fight back against conservative insurgents. Super PACs and political non-profits aligned with the GOP establishment and funded by establishment donors are jumping into Senate races to protect incumbent senators and establishment-backed Senate candidates. HuffPost reports, "This election cycle the GOP establishment has turned to these new unlimited-money vehicles to help tamp down the Tea Party insurgency that many in the top tiers of the party blamed for the Republicans' failure to take control of the Senate in 2010. Super PACs and political nonprofits, despite arguments that they have expanded the ability of competitors to challenge incumbents, may actually be doing the opposite. The flow of money released by the 2010 Citizens United and SpeechNow.org decisions has encouraged independent GOP establishment-oriented groups and donors to get involved in primary contests that had previously been dominated by the more radical Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. This has a double benefit: Incumbents and GOP insider choices are receiving financial support, while the party's hands are kept clean, as the national party organs do not have to step in to fight their conservative base."

Buzzfeed's Ben Smith breaks news that $200,000 went from a PAC set up to launch Jon Huntsman's presidential bid to a mysterious company that has no record on file in any state. "Utah financial disclosure reports for Horizon PAC show three payments totally $205,000 between February and April of last year to a company called 'For Bahm Marketing LLC,' which does not exist in the comprehensive record of American companies maintained by the service Nexis/Lexis," Smith writes.

The 2008 campaign of Barack Obama failed to report $2 million in campaign contributions, according to an audit by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The Washington Post also points out that the audit exonerates the campaign from a number of other charges, "Republicans made an issue out of the millions in small donations that Obama’s campaign raised in the last two months of the campaign, charging that he was accepting money from foreigners or fictitious people. The FEC audit, which included an investigation of 'contributions from prohibited sources,' found no evidence to substantiate those allegations."

Payday lenders who make shady loans with huge interest rates are ramping up their campaign contributions as they seek to fend off regulation under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. According to the Washington Post, "Employees of the top companies and their political action committees already have made $1.3 million in political contributions this election cycle, putting them on pace to soon exceed the $1.5 million given in the entire 2007-2008 period."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced a record $17.7 million haul in the first quarter of 2012.

A small super PAC is blasting a congressional candidate in Utah for claiming to run a number of companies that aren't registered with the state.

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf attempts a thought experiment on ways to solve the problem of congressmen spending so much time raising money.

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: Barack Obama for President
Spot: "Ernesto: Esta Eleccion Si Imoprta"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Massachusetts Republican Party
Candidate Opposed: Elizabeth Warren
Spot: "Professor Warren: Just Answer The Question"
Market: Massachusetts.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Scott Walker for Governor
Candidate Opposed: Tom Barrett
Spot: "Civility?"
Market: Wisconsin.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Tim Holden for Congress
Candidate Opposed: Matt Cartwright
Spot: "Anti-Cartwright Ad"
Market: Pennsylvania's 17th District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Matt Cartwright for Congress
Spot: "It's Time"
Market: Pennsylvania's 17th District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Ron Barber for Congress
Spot: "Seen"
Market: Arizona's 8th District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Jason Altmire for Congress
Spot: "Courage"
Market: Pennsylvania's 12th District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Beto O'Rourke for Congress
Spot: "El Paso Is America's #1 'Can Do' City (Spanish)"
Market: Texas' 16th District.
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Committee: Beto O'Rourke for Congress
Spot: "El Paso Is America's #1 'Can Do' City (English)"
Market: Texas' 16th District.
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), $13,017,772 to support, $18,885,161 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $7,548,235 to support, $20,923,379 to oppose.
Mitt Romney (R), $3,317,306 to support, $7,617,547 to oppose. (+$676,082)
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), $298,856 to support, $1,017,343 to oppose. (Support: +$3,961, Oppose: +$3,830)
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

Majority PAC, $35,000 to support Claire McCaskill for Senate in Missouri.
Indiana Republican State Committee, $3,830 to oppose Barack Obama for President in Indiana.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, $3,961 to support Barack Obama for President.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, $4,151 to oppose Mitt Romney for President.
Club for Growth PAC, $8,649 to support Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
Club for Growth PAC, $143 to oppose Dick Lugar for Senate in Indiana.
Club for Growth PAC, $6,187 to support Scott Keadle for Congress in North Carolina's 8th District.
Club for Growth, $49,152 to support Scott Keadle for Congress in North Carolina's 8th District.
Main Street Advocacy, $12,202 to oppose Jack Hoogendyk for Congress in Michigan's 6th District.
Campaign for Primary Accountability, $62,875 to oppose Tim Holden for Congress in Pennsylvania's 17th District.
Susan B Anthony List, $1,505 to support Cherilyn Eagar for Congress in Utah's 2nd District.
Priorities USA Action, $671,931 to oppose Mitt Romney for President.
FreedomWorks for America, $6,177 to oppose Orrin Hatch for Senate in Utah.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS

Scottsdale Women's Action Team, Scottsdale, Ariz., Treasurer: Warren H. Lang.
Students for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow, Horseheads, N.Y., Treasurer: Amanda Claypool. (Super PAC)
Coalition for Women's Economic Development, Broken Arrow, Okla., Treasurer: Alexander M. Cowden. (Super PAC)
Central PA Delegate Committee, Dallastown, Penn., Treasurer: David A. Talley.
Chiquita Banana International Inc Responsible Government And Nutrition Fund, Washington, D.C., Treasurer: Joseph Bradley.
Pro Life PAC of SE PA, Jenkintown, Penn., Treasurer: John P. Stanton.
PA Conservative Delegates Committee, Harrisburg, Penn., Treasurer: Lisa Stone.
National Cement Company Inc PAC, Encino, Calif., Treasurer: Michael David Stevens.
Fair Share Alliance Inc PAC, Boston, Mass., Treasurer: Brad Martin.

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