President Obama surprised a lot of pundits, and dismayed many reformers, when he announced earlier this month that he would allow campaign aides and Cabinet members to help a "super PAC" raise unlimited funds for his reelection.

Now we know why some Obama supporters may have been so panicked: Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Obama super PAC, raised just $58,815.83 in January, according to a report filed late Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

By comparison, Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing GOP challenger Mitt Romney, raised an average of $212,000 per day in the same month.

It marked a steep dive off an already low cliff for Priorities USA, which
raised just $4.4 million in 2011, nearly half of which came from Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. That number was already far lower than the money raised by Restore Our Future and a constellation of other super PACs formed to help Republicans, leading Obama campaign aides to acknowledge that they feared being outspent by November.

The largest donation to the Priorities USA super PAC in January was $50,000 from John W. Rogers of Chicago-based Ariel Capital, a longtime Obama booster and campaign bundler. The rest of the donations last month were $1,000 or less, the disclosure report shows.