Political Notebook

Large donations fill Romney group’s coffers

Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, was the biggest contributor to a pro-Obama organization. Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, was the biggest contributor to a pro-Obama organization.
(Associated Press)
August 2, 2011

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WASHINGTON - President Obama’s supporters are accustomed to trouncing rivals in the race for campaign cash - until now.

Republican primary contender Mitt Romney’s supporters have donated more than twice as much money to an outside committee dedicated to boosting his campaign than Obama’s backers did for his outside groups.

According to financial disclosure reports released Sunday, Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney committee, raised $12.3 million in the first half of the year, mostly through large donations of more than $10,000.

Priorities USA Action, an Obama-centric committee, took in $3.1 million, more than half from Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation, who helped found the group. When Priorities USA Action’s donations are added to its companion group, Priorities USA, which doesn’t disclose its donors, the combined total is about $5 million, according to an announcement from the group.

Obama and Romney are the only presidential candidates whose supporters have created such entities to help their campaigns. Romney’s backers had a head start in the money race. They began collecting donations in January, while the pro-Obama groups started in April.

The political action committees are independent groups that cannot legally coordinate with the candidates and campaign committees. Even so, both are composed of former aides who are familiar with their campaign themes and messages.

Restore Our Future’s treasurer is Charles R. Spies, who was Romney’s general counsel in the 2008 Republican primary. Its board of directors includes Carl Forti, who was political director for Romney’s bid that year.

Priorities USA Action was founded in April by Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman for Obama, and Sean Sweeney, a former senior adviser.

The pro-Romney PAC’s advantage over Obama’s supporters isn’t matched by the candidate.

The president’s campaign, Obama for America, said July 13 it took in $47 million in the second quarter of this year, mostly in donations of $250 or less. The Democratic National Committee raised more than $38 million.

Romney’s campaign raised $18.3 million in the same period, and the Republican National Committee has raised $37 million this year. Much of Romney’s support came from the financial industry, which had been a cornerstone of Obama’s fund-raising during his 2008 presidential campaign. Wall Street investors also were big contributors to the pro-Romney independent group.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson, who made money during the financial crisis betting against subprime mortgages, was one of four $1 million donors to the Restore Our Future PAC. The other three are corporations: F8 and Eli Publishing, both listed at the same address in Provo, Utah; and W. Spann of New York.

Paul Edgerley, a managing director of Bain Capital, the company Romney founded, and his wife, Sandra, each contributed $500,000 to the Restore Our Future PAC.

The group’s total donations came from fewer than 100 donors, many of whom wrote checks for $100,000 or more. The smallest was $3,500.

Individuals are limited to donations of $2,500 per election for a candidate.


GOP governors outraise Democratic counterparts WASHINGTON - The Republican Governors Association outraised its Democratic counterpart by a ratio of 2 to 1, raking in $22.1 million during the first six months of this year.

The Democratic Governors Association collected $11 million during the period, Internal Revenue Service records show.

The Republican association collected $1 million from billionaire David Koch of energy giant Koch Industries, while the insurance industry, including Aetna Inc. and American National Insurance Co., donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the group.

GOP officials said they had $16.2 million in the bank through the end of June, while the Democratic association had $8.6 million cash on hand.

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