Another super PAC helped keep Newt Gingrich’s rocky candidacy alive with $11 million in donations — although $10 million of that came from a casino magnate and his wife, the group’s Federal Election Commission filings show.
These and other FEC disclosures, which were due by midnight Monday, underscore the extent to which a small group of ultra-wealthy financiers and industry executives has come to dominate spending in the Republican nominating contest, a trend that seems likely to persist through the general-election campaign.
The success of Restore Our Future and other GOP-aligned independent groups prompted President Obama to shift course this month and endorse the aims of a super PAC dedicated to his reelection effort, which raised just $58,816 last month. Obama campaign officials say they fear they will be outspent by Republicans, and the operation’s January fundraising number — $11.8 million — suggests that he may not be able to match his record from 2008.
Two Republican candidates with less-robust super PACs — Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) — posted healthy totals for January, each raising $4.5 million. The numbers show that both are likely to have enough money to compete in the months ahead.
The figures are not far from the $6.5 million brought in by Romney, the top GOP fundraiser. Santorum’s fundraising figure preceded his rise in the polls, which has made him the biggest current threat to Romney.
But the largest amount of money is going to the super PACs. Restore Our Future has nearly a dozen donors who each have given $1 million or more since last year to support Romney, and many of those same contributors also help raise money for Romney’s formal campaign. The group is funding millions of dollars worth of attack ads against Santorum in Michigan.
A pro-Santorum super PAC — the Red, White and Blue Fund — reported raising $2.1 million in January, most of which came from two donors: $1 million from Louisiana energy executive William J. Dore and $670,000 from investor Foster Friess, who garnered attention last week with a remark about aspirin and contraception. The super PAC Endorse Liberty, which supports Paul, took in $1.7 million from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations or unions as long as they don’t coordinate with candidates on how to spend the money.