Democratic billionaires are helping Hillary Clinton’s outside allies sustain a massive cash advantage over an array of super PACs backing Donald Trump, which are still struggling to match the financial arsenal on the left.
Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC aligned with Clinton, brought in $9.3 million in July, giving it a total of $110 million for the 2016 cycle, according to new campaign finance reports filed Saturday. The group headed into August with nearly $39 million in the bank.
The robust fundraising is due to huge donations from Clinton supporters such as hedge fund founder S. Donald Sussman, who has given the group $11 million in all. In an interview, Sussman called the former secretary of state “probably the most capable and smartest person to run for the presidency.”
“I am motivated to having very smart people put in charge of my business and my government,” he added.
Meanwhile, two of the main pro-Trump groups, Make America Number 1 and Great America PAC, together just pulled in $4.4 million last month. Nearly half the money came from conservative hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, who gave $2 million.
A third group backing the GOP presidential nominee appears to be doing better since it received the campaign’s blessing last month. Rebuilding America Now, which files on a quarterly basis, reported raising $2.16 million through the end of June, but has spent $11.4 million on anti-Clinton and pro-Trump ads through Friday, FEC filings show. Both Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have expressed willingness to headline fundraisers for the super PAC.
Still, the pro-Trump groups still lag far behind their Clinton counterparts — a reflection of the reluctance of many GOP heavyweight donors to put their resources behind Trump.
That has led to a major imbalance on the airwaves. So far, pro-Clinton and anti-Trump groups have reported spending more than $113 million on voter contact in 2016 – compared to $36 million to boost Trump and go after Clinton, filings show. (That includes money spent during the primaries.)
The main driver for Clinton has been Priorities, which has already reported spending $48 million on ads. From August until election day, the super PAC had roughly $87 million in TV airtime reserved, along with $5 million for radio and tens of millions in digital ads.
The group has been fueled with seven-figure checks from some of the wealthiest figures on the left, such as investor George Soros ($7 million) and Univision Chairman Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl ($10 million).
In July, Sussman, who had already given the super PAC $8 million, doled out another $3 million. Slim-Fast founder Daniel Abraham also contributed $3 million, bringing his total contribution to $6 million.
The scenario is a dramatic flip from 2012, when Priorities initially struggled to persuade rich Democrats to support its efforts to reelect President Obama, while a super PAC supporting GOP nominee Mitt Romney vacuumed up cash.
Other Democratic super PACs are also benefiting from the largesse from liberal donors and labor unions this year. Sussman gave another $1 million in July to House Majority PAC, which works to elect Democratic congressional candidates, bringing his total contributions to that group to $3 million.
“In every election, politicians say, ‘This is the most important election of your lifetime.’ But this time, I actually believe that’s true,” he said, adding: “I am a Hillary Clinton fan, and I have been for quite some time. But this is much bigger than that. The House and Senate could be back in the control of Democrats, who will take the steps to do what is needed to put our government back on track.”