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Mitt Romney’s hidden campaign cash

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Mitt Romney is quickly closing the cash gap on President Obama. But as of right now, we don’t know exactly how close it is.

One of the quirks of campaign finance reporting is that, while the committee Obama uses to raise money for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee — also called a “joint fundraising committee” — reports its totals monthly, Romney’s version of that joint committee has yet to file a report.

Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney greets attendees after speaking at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference in Florida. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

The “Romney Victory Fund,” as it’s called, was launched in April and will file its first quarterly report next month. We’re also pretty sure it has tens of millions of dollars in it right now.

But even that conclusion involves some guesswork, and Romney’s campaign isn’t saying much.

Here’s what we do know:

* Romney’s campaign has said that the joint committee raised $17 million in April and $52.7 million in May, for a total of about $70 million.

* $33 million of that total has been transferred to Romney’s campaign ($7 million) and the Republican National Committee ($26 million), according to reports filed by those committees. That leaves about $37 million that is unaccounted for.

* Romney’s campaign has said it has a total of $107 million cash on hand, but only $78 million of it shows up in reports filed by Romney’s campaign and the RNC. So logic would suggest that about $29 million remains in the Romney Victory Fund joint fundraising committee.

Romney’s campaign has not confirmed that number, though.

If indeed that money is in the joint committee, the question then is how much of it can and will be transferred to Romney and the RNC.

(Here’s a quick primer on how joint committees work: They raise money in one big chunk from a donor and then give the maximum to the campaign and national party committee — $5,000 for the campaign and $30,800 for the national party. Whatever money is given beyond $35,800 goes to key state party committees and, in Romney’s case, the GOP’s House and Senate committees.)

Some of the money in the Romney Victory Fund could be designated for state parties and the GOP’s House and Senate efforts, but it’s unlikely that that’s a huge chunk of it. More likely is that a good portion of the un-accounted-for money in the fund can still be transferred to his campaign or to the RNC and simply hasn’t been, for whatever reason.

The joint committee didn’t transfer any of the $17 million it raised in April, for example. So unlike Obama’s joint committee, it doesn’t seem to be in a rush to transfer big chunks of money every month to pump up its cash-on-hand totals.

Obama’s joint committee, in contrast, has sent 85 percent of the $40 million it raised over the past two months to the Obama campaign and the DNC, with most of the rest going to expenses. It retains only $4.5 million cash on hand.

The question for Romney is where will that $29 million go.

Either way, the vast majority of the money will benefit his campaign in some way, whether through state parties, his campaign or the RNC.

And Romney has, in two months, turned a $90 million cash deficit into a $40 million deficit.

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