New outside spending groups, dubbed super PACs, that can accept unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy individuals, spent $12.9 million in Iowa and other early GOP battleground states through New Year’s Day, according to an analysis of federal data.
The top beneficiary was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. A total of $4.6 million was spent to help the nominal front-runner, the vast majority for ads torpedoing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Second was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who benefited from $3.7 million in outside spending.
According to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission data,12 outside super PACs spent money, mostly on advertising, with the intention of electing or defeating a GOP presidential candidate. Ten have not yet reported their donors. The two that have did so last summer.
The upshot is that voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, all of whose contests will be held this month, won’t know who is paying for much of the advertising they see until after their votes are cast.
The next reports on donors aren’t due until January 31, the day of the Florida primary.
Federal court decisions in 2010 made it possible for individuals, corporations and labor unions to give unlimited contributions to political organizations (super PACs) and certain types of nonprofits, which can then spend the money to elect or defeat candidates. The groups are prohibited from coordinating their activities with candidates.
The top super PAC spender was "Restore Our Future" — the ambiguously named group set up to help Romney. The group spent $4.1 million, all of it in opposition to Gingrich, who enjoyed a brief lead in Iowa polls last month before the shellacking.
Restore Our Future has moved on from Iowa and spent $622,000 in Florida, a likely harbinger of more to come in that high stakes contest. Almost $100,000 has been spent by ...