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Virginia Politics
Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 10/15/2012

GOP super PAC in Virginia Senate race rakes it in

This post has been updated.

While Democrat Timothy M. Kaine’s Senate campaign has consistently out-raised Republican George Allen’s, the opposite is true when it comes to two super PACs set up on each candidate’s behalf.


Former Virginia governors Tim Kaine, left, and George Allen greet each other after the AP Day at the Capitol Senatorial debate at the Capitol in Richmond. (Steve Helber - AP)
Independence Virginia PAC, established to help Allen, has raised nearly $1.1 million. New Virginia PAC, created to back Kaine, has taken in less than $70,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.

When both super PACs were getting underway in March, an organizer of the pro-Kaine group told The Washington Post that he hoped to raise and spend between $2 million and $3 million on this year’s campaign.

“Look, it’s been tough to raise the money,” another of the organizers, media consultant Mark Longabaugh, said in an interview Monday. “We haven’t been able to put it together the way we [would have] liked. We still continue to work hard at it. Lots of folks are still expressing interest. We anticipate doing some TV and some radio. ... We’re in production right now.”

Kaine, like many Democrats, has expressed concern about the involvement of outside groups, particularly if they did not disclose their donors. Early this year, he called on Allen to agree to a deal in which all outside groups would disclose their donors.

Allen dismissed the request as a “gimmick.” And just days after a pro-Allen super PAC announced its existence, a pro-Kaine version came into being — albeit one whose organizers pledged to disclose the sources of all donations.

The pro-Allen group was founded by Paul Bennecke, a former aide to Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). The pro-Kaine one was started by two former aides to Sen. Mark Warner (D) — Steve Bouchard and Harmony Knutson — as well as Longabaugh.

Democrats have sought to make an issue of who has been bankrolling Allen’s super PAC.

The largest donor by far is Dallas homebuilder Bob Perry, who helped support Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. Perry donated $1 million to the pro-Allen PAC, according to VPAP.

On Monday, the Democratic Party of Virginia released a YouTube video seeking to link Allen to Foster Friess, a Wyoming millionaire who was Rick Santorum’s biggest backer. Friess caused trouble for Santorum early this year with a quip about women holding aspirin between their knees as a contraceptive. Friess donated $10,000 to the pro-Allen super PAC.

The video, titled “The Company George Allen Keeps,” plays up the aspirin comment while showing Allen and Friess in cowboy hats.

Kaine himself called on Allen to ask Independence Virginia to return the donation from Friess, who also drew controversy after saying he hopes President Obama’s “teleprompters are bulletproof.”

“I call on George Allen to reject the intolerant views of Foster Friess and ask Independence Virginia to return his contribution,” Kaine said in a prepared statement issued Monday.

Bennecke did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Allen campaign spokeswoman Emily Davis noted that such a request would run afoul of laws prohibiting campaigns from coordinating with third-party groups.

“It’s pretty hypocritical for Tim Kaine to launch attacks on outside spending when labor unions, radical environmentalists and Washington Democrats are bankrolling his message,”Davis said.

The largest contributor to Kaine’s campaign was Edward Rice of Vienna, a big Democratic donor who gave $225,000 to state Sen. Creigh Deeds’s (D-Bath) failed gubernatorial bid in 2009.

By  |  03:02 PM ET, 10/15/2012

 
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