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HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Romney's Super PAC Record And The Intimidation Imagination

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LAST FRIDAY SUPER PACS AND PREZ CANDIDATES REPORTED JUNE FUNDING -- Here's what we learned:

While the official campaign committee of Barack Obama beat that of Mitt Romney by $45 million to $33 million, the combined total raised by Romney and the Republican National Committee (RNC) surpassed that raised by Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

HuffPost: "In total, the RNC and the Romney campaign raised $72.8 million to the DNC and Obama combined total of $66 million. The RNC's big advantage came from the fundraising done by Romney for the joint fundraising committee Romney Victory. A total of $27.2 million was transferred from Romney Victory to the RNC in June. The DNC only received $10.7 million from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising vehicle raising money for the president's campaign and the DNC."

Both the pro-Obama and pro-Romney super PACs had banner months.

The pro-Romney Restore Our Future, however, really set the bar high. HuffPost reports, "Mitt Romney will be getting a lot of support from the super PAC run by his former aides in the future. Restore Our Future raised $20.7 million in June, the biggest monthly haul by a super PAC in the less than three years that they have existed. The super PAC, which now has $21.5 million cash on hand, pulled in money from a who's who of noted Republican super PAC donors. The biggest of those donors was casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the top super PAC donor of the 2012 election, who accounted for half of the super PAC's haul with a $10 million donation. Adelson was joined by Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, known for funding the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group in 2004, who chipped in $2 million. Foster Friess, the camera ready former funder of Rick Santorum's super PAC, put in $100,000. Another $100,000 came from Joe Ricketts, the TD Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner who pondered spending $10 million on a plan to attack President Barack Obama for his ties to his former preacher Jeremiah Wright."

The pro-Obama Priorities USA Action had its best month yet: "The top super PAC backing President Barack Obama's reelection campaign had its best month,raising $6.1 million in June. Priorities USA Action's fundraising came almost entirely from eight individuals giving six- or seven-figure donations. The biggest contribution was a $2 million donation from Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. The other two million-dollar donors were Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman and media magnate Fred Eychaner. Both gave $1 million. Architect Jon Stryker, an heir to the medical supply Stryker Corp. fortune, contributed $750,000. Stryker is a big donor to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender causes, including to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has itself given donations to super PACs this election cycle."

The Sunlight Foundation reports on the big advantage of the GOP super PACs: "Right-leaning Super PACs topped their Democratic rivals by a factor of nearly three-to-one from the start of 2011 through June 30, according to a Sunlight analysis of filings made through midnight Friday. In the first eighteen months of the presidential election cycle, Republican-oriented Super PACs brought in about $230 million while Democratic-leaning super PACs raised less than $80 million."

AD WATCH

The Obama campaign is now running softer ads featuring the president speaking directly to the camera. In one the president uses the format for a softer attack on the policies proposed by his opponent. In the other, just released Tuesday evening, he responds to the "you didn't build that" comment taken out of context by the Romney campaign.

The RNC states that out of context quotes from the president like, "you didn't build that," and gaffes like, "The private sector is doing just fine," aren't actually gaffes, but actually represent the president's view of private business.

The run-off race for the Republican nomination for the open Texas Senate seat vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's retirement has turned, how should we say, unbelievably mean. This ad from a pro-David Dewhurst super PAC, funded by many of the biggest GOP super PAC donors, makes the presidential race look like a tea party (the ones with little girls and stuffed animals, not the ones with concealed carry permits and calls for Second Amendment remedies).

Other ads from super PACs include two ads from Majority PAC, one in North Dakota and the other in Virginia.

Republican Don Young endorses Democrat Mazie Hirono in the Hawaii Democratic Senate primary in this ad.

INTIMIDATION IMAGINATION -- Slate's Dahlia Lithwick and Raymond Vasvari argue against the new Republican position that disclosure of campaign money is bad because it could lead to intimidation. Consistently invoked is the case of anti-gay marriage donors to a successful proposition to ban gay marriage. Slate: "Supporters of Proposition 8—the California same-sex marriage ban enacted with substantialout-of-state financial support, and recently overturned by the Ninth Circuit—alleged that disclosing their identities would expose them to harassment by political opponents, and the contested statute cast a cloud of intimidation over the exercise of their protected First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs in that case submitted dozens of sworn statements (many of them anonymous) to a federal judge in Sacramento, chronicling what they characterized as past abuse and harassment. While the court found their evidence to be somewhat exaggerated, it was quick to condemn the few genuine acts of violence and vandalism involved. Nonetheless, the court found those incidents too few and too isolated to outweigh the compelling interest California had in the public disclosure of campaign contributions: preventing the threat of corruption, while letting the public know where campaigns got their cash, information which itself plays a role in helping people decide how to vote. ...When the Supreme Court sustained disclosure requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1976, in Buckley v. Valeo, it held open the possibility that campaign disclosure requirements might be invalid to the extent that they cowed small and traditionally persecuted groups into political silence for fear of retaliation. It drew upon the lessons of the civil rights era and earlier cases involving widespread public and official harassment of advocacy groups such as the NAACP. [Jim] Bopp raised those same arguments in California on behalf of the Proposition 8 crowd. But the federal district court was not persuaded. His clients, after all, backed the winners in that election, who spent millions of dollars and gained millions of votes in support of the long-established status quo, “traditional marriage.” That is a far cry from the civil rights advocates of the 1960s who risked their lives fighting a centuries-old system of legal discrimination and whose plight the Supreme Court had in mind when it decided Buckley. Some Proposition 8 advocates argued that disclosing their names would be bad for business. An ice cream shop was picketed after its owner was identified as a donor. A dentist lost two patients. Other businesses suffered negative publicity online. One person was harassed by way of a Post-it note. Those arguments did not go far in the courts. It’s hard to argue that one’s free speech (in the form of money) should be automatically privileged over the vicious free speech (in the form of Post-it-notes) of those who would disagree. Even boycotts of businesses and donors don’t constitute the kind of threats opponents of disclosure would suggest. For more than 70 years, the Supreme Court has recognized that nonviolent protests and picketing do not lose their First Amendment protections just because they may result in lost business."

SUPPRESS THE WHITE VOTE? -- The New York Times' Tom Edsall lays out an interesting proposition to explain the anti-Bain Capital advertising by Obama and his supportive super PAC, "One track of his re-election drive seeks to boost turnout among core liberal groups; the other aims to suppress turnout and minimize his margin of defeat in the most hostile segment of the electorate, whites without college degrees. ...Obama’s television ads, at $65.6 million the biggest cost of his re-election bid so far, are overwhelmingly aimed at discrediting Mitt Romney. The negative ads run by the Obama campaign and its allied “super PAC,” Priorities USA — ads demonizing Romney — target not only whites without college degrees, but in particular white men without degrees, a constituency Obama has no hope of winning. The two anti-Romney commercials that appear to have resonated most powerfully, according to measures of YouTube views, are explicitly aimed at these voters. ...A central goal of the anti-Romney commercials is to cross-pressure these whites. Persuading more than 28 percent of them to vote for Obama is a tough sell, but the Obama campaign can try to make the alternative, voting for Romney, equally unacceptable. Conflicted voters, especially those holding negative views of both candidates, are likely to skip voting altogether. In 2004, for example, in a tactic designed to decrease black turnout, the Bush campaign sent deeply religious black voters mail and email noting Democratic support for same-sex civil unions, with the goal of creating ambivalence toward Senator John F. Kerry. Over the past two years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have been conducting an aggressive vote-suppression strategy of their own through the passage of voter identification laws and laws imposing harsh restrictions on voter registration drives."

COUNTER-COUNTER INTUITIVE -- The New Republic's Alec MacGilliss responds to Matt Bai's New York Times article arguing that Citizens United didn't really have anything to do with the explosion of independent spending in elections, "Yes, there are a couple liberal billionaires who gave a ton in 2004 to save the country from George W. Bush, but are lying low this year: Soros and Peter Lewis, the Progressive Insurance chairman who has turned his focus to marijuana law reform. But there is a whole other swath of wealthy liberals who realize full well what the stakes are in this fall’s election, even if they are perhaps not as “pumped up” as they were in 2004. But they are holding back from giving as much as they could to the SuperPACs and other outside groups precisely because they are “queasy” about them. That is what I found in speaking to many of these potential donors for a recent article, and it is what Robert Draper found in reporting his own recent Times Magazine piece about the pro-Obama SuperPAC. Put simply, Citizens United put liberals at such a disadvantage not only because the other side has more millionaires and billionaires and friends in high corporate places, but because the left’s millionaires and billionaires have existential qualms about unlimited campaign donations that simply do not exist on the right."

MORE LINKS TO READ

The IRS looks like they might review rules governing 501(c)(4) nonprofits, which are being used to shield political donor identities.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that state rules may force Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-linked nonprofit, to disclose its donors.

Million dollar donors account for nearly half of GOP super PAC fundraising.

The New York Times profiled Carl Forti, the political operative who will direct the hundreds of millions raised by Restore Our Future, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

NEW SUPER PAC REGISTRATIONS

Don't Drink The Tea Party, Phoenix, Ariz., Treasurer: Richard Keefe.
I Am A Person, Salt Lake City, Utah, Treasurer: Taylor Mosolf.
Pep Rally, Sacramento, Calif., Treasurer: David Bauer.
Connecticut's Future PAC, Hartford, Conn., Treasurer: Joseph Taborsak.
Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, Washington, D.C., Treasurer: James E. Tyrrell III.
Spend Smart America, Arlington, Va., Treasurer: Christopher Bobbitt.
Americans for Real Change PAC, McLean, Va., Treasurer: Jake Menges.
Dump West, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Treasurer: Andrew J. Perez.
420PAC.Org, Lawndale, Calif., Treasurer: James Augustine Oliveira, Jr.

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