07/31/2012 06:39 pm ET

HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Dark Money Dominates, 100+ Mega-Donors, And Olympics Ads

DARK MONEY ACCOUNTS FOR HALF OF ALL INDEPENDENT CAMPAIGN SPENDING -- The Huffington Post reported on the spending by groups that don't disclose their donors and found that these groups account for at least HALF of all the spending by independent outside groups in the 2012 cycle.

HuffPost: "Through July 26, politically involved groups that do not disclose their donors have spent at least $172 million on campaigns that include television, radio and Internet advertising, according to a Huffington Post review of FEC reports, advertising buys, press releases and news stories. Total spending by these groups is likely far greater, since they are required to report only a fraction of their spending to the FEC. Politically involved independent groups that publicly disclose their donors, including super PACs, have spent $174 million so far this election cycle. 'For this cycle, we know almost nothing,' said Center for Responsive Politics communications director Viveca Novak, referring to those behind the spending of non-disclosing groups. Crossroads GPS is the biggest spender, with $85.9 million in spending in announced advertising since the beginning of 2011, according to its press releases."

WHAT DO THEY WANT? -- HuffPost's Howard Fineman writes, "But all these super donors have other goals that are less high-minded and more specific. Simply put, they want the federal government to do something or to stop doing something. For their money, they want results that will help their bottom line, their industry or their members. 'When people contribute to political action committees,' then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) said in 1983, 'they expect something in return other than good government.' And the money back then was trifling, and the rules back then were strict. Now it's anything goes. So what do the big boys want? What do they really, really want? The Huffington Post looked behind the rhetoric for the potential policy payoffs -- there's truly no other word for it -- sought by 15 individual and institutional super donors in the 2012 campaign."

SUPER PACS SHORE UP ROMNEY -- Barack Obama spent huge amounts on advertising in recent months, far more than his opponent, Mitt Romney. That spending disparity has been blunted by the big spending super PACs and social welfare groups on the conservative side. HuffPost: "Televisions in the eight swing states that could decide the 2012 election were inundated by ads from the Obama campaign, which spent $67 million on television advertising in May and June, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Romney's campaign was largely absent from the airwaves in comparison, spending only $14.9 million over the same time period. This spending disparity -- Obama spent four-and-a-half times as much as Romney on ads -- was reduced to a less than two-to-one advantage because of aid from independent pro-Romney groups whose spending was empowered after a series of court rulings that lifted most restrictions on how the groups can raise and spend their money. These groups, both super PACs and social welfare non-profits organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, spent $41.8 million on ads attacking Obama in May and June. Allies of the president, including Service Employees International Union and Priorities USA Action, spent only $12.3 million on advertising over the same period."

100 AND COUNTING -- There are now 100 donors, or related groups of donors, who have given more than $500,000 to super PACs in the 2012 cycle. HuffPost: "Super PACs had their biggest fundraising month ever in June when they raised a combined total exceeding $54 million. In total, super PACs have raised $298 million in the 2012 election cycle, with the vast majority coming from mega-donors giving at least $500,000. Seventy percent of all contributions to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle have come from donors giving $500,000 or more. They are led by billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose family has combined to give $37.75 million to super PACs through June. ...For the first time, Democratic mega-donors accounted for the majority of new members of the $500,000-plus club. Ten of the seventeen newly added $500,000-plus donors gave to groups supporting Democrats. They included Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, hedge fund investor and right-wing boogie man George Soros, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, Hollywood producer Haim Saban, architect Jon Stryker, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, health IT executive Paul Egerman, Working Assets Funding Service, publisher and author Win McCormack and technology executive Stephen Silberstein."


Restore Our Future, the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, is running a positive spot during the Olympics featuring Olympians who competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics headed by Romney.

Restore Our Future is also on the radio air waves with a $1 million buy for this advertisement.

Obama is up with a new contrast ad noting the difference in policy between the two candidates. The ad also ties Romney's policies to those of George W. Bush:

This Obama ad is airing during Olympics coverage.

Romney's most recent ad takes another out-of-context Obama quote and uses it to attack:

The pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, ran into some trouble with their proposed Olympics ad.

Meanwhile, Crossroads GPS shoots off another ad in their $25 million July campaign. And in Missouri, there's this incredibly wooden, awkward performance from GOP Sen. candidate Todd Akin. Also, a couple of pro-overseas intervention groups are attacking Obama in ads.

CORPORATIONS PREFER GOP -- The Center for Public Integrity reported that corporate donations flowed largely to GOP super PACs over Democratic groups: "The top two super PACs — the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads — have raised nearly $24 million in contributions from companies so far this election cycle, a Center for Public Integrity analysis has found. Donors include hedge funds, energy companies, dietary supplement makers and even a popcorn manufacturer. The list includes a handful of Fortune 500 and other publicly traded corporations, but donors are more likely to be privately held businesses, often organized as limited partnerships or limited liability companies. Businesses account for only about 5 percent of donations to the four most prominent Democratic super PACs. Labor unions, which were also given greater spending freedom thanks to the Citizens United decision, make up a much larger percentage of receipts."

ANXIETY LEADS TO FUNDRAISING BINGE -- The Hill reports that Obama is ready for a fundraising bonanza as Romney continues to rake in huge donations, "President Obama will host a series of high-dollar fundraisers in the coming weeks and is expected to add more events than usual after the Democratic National Convention. The string of upcoming events reflects deep worry in Chicago about competing with the tidal wave of cash being raised by outside groups aimed at electing Mitt Romney. The impetus for more and more big fundraisers just 98 days before the election is also in stark contrast with where Obama was in his matchup against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, when he had a substantial financial advantage fueled by individual donations."

ROMNEY's JERUSALEM LOVEFEST -- The Boston Globe: "Among those at the fundraiser was Sheldon Adelson, who has emerged as the biggest Republican donor and has already contributed $10 million the Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Romney. He sat right next to Romney at the front of the room, with tables shaped in a horse-shoe creating an intimate atmosphere. 'This was a love-fest,' said Phil Rosen, a New York lawyer who also has a home in Jerusalem and helped organize the fundraiser. 'A success,' Spencer Zwick, Romney’s finance chairman said as he left, adding that more than $1 million was raised from about 45 people. Donors had to pay between $25,000 and $50,000 to attend. Romney’s campaign initially was going to close the fundraiser to the press, breaking an agreement with how such events would be covered. Within 24 hours, they reversed that decision and allowed a small pool of reporters to cover Romney’s remarks. Romney also took several questions from the donors after reporters left."


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Muslim American Vote, Boyds, Md., Treasurer: Afgen Sheikh.
Cascadia PAC, Portland, Ore., Treasurer: Colby Ross Clipson.
America Shining, San Francisco, Calif., Treasurer: Tara M. Geise.
The Heartland Project, Chicago, Ill., Treasurer: Michael Alexander.
Sovereignty Matters, Novato, Calif., Treasurer: S. Richard Oltman.
The Faux News Super PAC, Cortez, Colo., Treasurer: Michael L. Morehead.
Patriot Prosperity PAC, Washington, D.C., Treasurer: David Satterfield.
END - Eradicate National Debt, Chapel Hill, N.C., Treasurer: Chase Macaione.
New Jersey Republican Prolife Coalition PAC, Westfield, N.J., Treasurer: Faith Willis.
New Opportunities PAC, New York, N.Y., Treasurer: Alex Einghorn.
Flyover Super PAC, Lawrenceburg, Ind., Treasurer: Troy Hayes.
Sound From The Ground, Bethesda, Md., Treasurer: Kabeer Minhas.
Defend Our Homes, Washington, D.C., Treasurer: Steven Rosenthal.
The Fat Old Man PAC, Solon, Ohio, Treasurer: Rober C. Rosenfeld.

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