Democratic super PACs outraise Republicans 2-1

August 1, 2013

WASHINGTON — Democratic-aligned super PACs raised more than twice as much as Republican groups during the first half of the year, newly filed campaign reports show.

Democratic groups collected $31.9 million between Jan. 1 and June 30, while organizations affiliated with Republicans brought in $13.7 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of super PACs that raised at least $100,000.

It’s a stark reversal from the 2012 presidential and congressional elections when Republican groups dominated spending.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun-control group created in January by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, led the way, bringing in $6.6 million. Other groups backing Democratic politicians and policies also posted strong fundraising totals.

The House Majority PAC, working to elect Democrats to the House, raised nearly $3.4 million — more than four times the $773,246 raised by the two leading groups (Congressional Leadership Fund and YG Action Fund) working to retain the Republican majority in the House.

“After every presidential loss, there is an understandable disappointment among donors,” said Fred Malek, a veteran Republican fundraiser affiliated with several of the top GOP groups, including the Congressional Leadership Fund.

“It makes sense to give them a rest from politics,” he said. “People are more interested in getting the policies right rather than focusing on an election that’s 16 months out.” Malek said he has yet not sought any donations for the Congressional Leadership Fund.

Andy Stone, spokesman for the House Majority PAC, said donors “are clearly turned off by the way the Tea Party has pulled the Republican Party to the right and are more excited about what Democrats have to offer.”

The biggest fundraiser among GOP groups during the first six months of the year was a brand-new Tea Party-affiliated super PAC, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. It took in $2 million, the lion’s share of which came in small contributions in a sign of broad-based support.

American Crossroads, one of the most active Republican super PACs in the 2012 election, raised less: $1.9 million. More than half the money, $1 million, came from a single source, Contran Corp., the holding company of Texas industrialist Harold Simmons.

Several new Republican efforts also had a slow fundraising start. Republicans for Immigration Reform, announced last fall by former Bush administration Commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez, raised $193,150 during the first six months of the year.

America Rising PAC, a super PAC that is positioning itself as the main opposition and research engine for Republicans, brought in $22,048 since it began operating in March. By contrast, the American Bridge 21st Century, the opposition research group Democrats launched ahead of the 2012 elections, took in more than $2.8 million during the first half of the year.

Tim Miller, America Rising’s executive director, said the group hired a finance director in July to kickstart fundraising and is “very optimistic about being able to fund a robust operation that will hold Democrats accountable in the midterms and 2016.”

The analysis examined super PACs that reported contributions through June 30. An additional five super PACs active in special elections this year filed reports covering their activity through July 15. Among those five, Democratic-aligned committees outraised Republican organizations by nearly 3-1.