Entries in FEC (6)


Pro-Obama Super PAC Outraises Romney Super PAC, Again

William Thomas Cain/Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For the second consecutive month, the main pro-Obama super PAC has outraised its Romney-backing counterpart.

Priorities USA Action raised $15.2 million in September, according to a spokeswoman. The group has not yet officially reported its total to the Federal Election Commission, with Saturday being the deadline.

Restore Our Future, the main super PAC that has backed Romney since the GOP primary, raised $14.8 million in September, according to a disclosure already filed with the FEC.

Restore seems to have become the first super PAC to surpass $100 million in money raised. The other major Republican super PAC, the Karl-Rove-backed American Crossroads, has not yet reached that mark, raising $66.8 million since its inception in 2010. But along with the affiliated 501(c)4 Crossroads GPS, the two groups have surpassed that mark, as GPS raised $76 million in 2010 and 2011, according to tax returns released in April. The FEC lists 773 super PAC filers (including “Zombies of Tomorrow”), many of them small or defunct; it’s unlikely any have surpassed Restore’s total.

Last month, Priorities outraised Restore for the first time ever, taking in $10.1 million to Restore’s $7 million. September was Priorities’ largest fundraising month to date.

Other Democratic super PACs aren’t doing so badly, either. Majority PAC, which focuses on Senate races, announced having raised $10.4 million in September, with another $9.7 million raised through Oct. 17. House Majority PAC, a group dedicated to House races, tells ABC News it took in $5.9 million in September and is on track to double that in October. September was the best fundraising month ever for both groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Do Conservative Groups Hope You Won’t Recognize Obama's Voice?

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Does Obama’s voice reference Obama? Certain conservative groups hope that the Federal Election Commission doesn’t think so.

An FEC discussion regarding what counts as a reference to a candidate is currently underway, as conservative groups hope to sidestep laws regarding donor disclosure while still running attack ads with clear, pointed messages. "Electioneering communication,” the catchy name the FEC has slapped on veiled campaign advertising, encompasses any TV spot that runs 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election that makes reference to a “clearly identified” candidate.

While any term that uses a candidate’s name -- think “Obamacare” -- is out, that’s just about all the FEC has managed to agree on. The American Future Fund (AFF) is capitalizing on this lack of consensus and has floated a number of ways of getting around the FEC ruling, ranging from blatant symbolism (the White House and the Washington Monument) to merely using the president in voiceovers. The argument for the latter claims that the majority of Americans are so politically un-inclined that “only those familiar with President Obama’s voice will know that it is President Obama speaking,” according to Jason Torchinsky, AFF attorney.

If the American public doesn’t recognize its commander in chief’s voice, the AFF and other groups have a lot of room to play with. Many say the eyes are the most identifiable part of the face -- maybe simply blocking out Obama’s eyes would disguise him enough so that only the most engaged citizens would realize who was being criticized.

While direct attack ads fall outside of the purview of this ruling, the AFF seems to have found yet another strategy within the safe confines of the rules. The group has been test running its “New Tax Day” ad, in which president Obama is shown pixilated.

While none of the groups affected by the ruling have yet to try putting one of these work-arounds into their ads thus far at the risk of being forced to violate their donors’ expected privacy, it’s unlikely that the AFF is the only organization considering this strategy.

The possibilities are endless if Torchinsky’s assessment of the American people’s political engagement is accurate. If the audience doesn’t recognize Obama’s voice, what are the chances they’ll remember that he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? For bonus points, groups could reference Obama by the fact that the man was the first president to bring his Blackberry with him into the Oval Office; only die-hard followers would remember that tidbit.

“The father of the family with that cute dog” could also work -- it’s so vague that no one could accuse the group of mounting an attack, but who could really ever forget the Obamas’ adorable dog? Bo might even be more well-known than Barack himself.

Whatever decision the FEC hands down, it’s certain to benefit the American public. If the FEC shoots down the AFF’s proposals, our television sets will be clear of that many more attack ads. But if the AFF’s argument is left standing at the end of deliberations, we’re certain to have a wealth of entertaining oblique references flooding our screens come fall.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Annette Simmons Donates $1 Million Toward Rick Santorum

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For Rick Santorum, February was a great month, both politically and monetarily, according to financial reports disclosed to the FEC on Tuesday.

The Santorum campaign did not raise as much money as Romney's in February, and looking at their overall amount raised cycle-to-date, the battle is still very much David vs. Goliath. However, compared to where the Santorum campaign was financially just a few months ago, February was a knock-out month.

Santorum reportedly raised $8.9 million in February. This number accounts for almost half of the campaign’s total of $15.5 million raised to date. (For comparison, the Romney campaign has raised a total of $74.2 million.)

The Red, White and Blue Fund, the super PAC supporting Santorum’s bid, increased their fundraising as well, though not by the same margins. In February they reportedly raised $2.9 million, up from $2.1 million raised in January.

Santorum’s super PAC has largely been funded by billionaire investor Foster Friess, who sometimes appears on the campaign trail besides Santorum. This month however, there was a new mega-donor.

Annette Simmons, an executive at the Contran Corp. in Dallas, donated $1 million to the Red, White and Blue fund in February. Not only was Simmons’ donation her first to the group, it was her first in general, she told ABC news.

“I don’t think I’ve ever given to anyone politically,” Simmons said, “but I was impressed with Santorum.”

Simmons said she was drawn to Santorum’s strong Christian and family values.

“I just knew that I wanted to help Santorum because he’s the kind of man I would want to be president,” she proclaimed.

After she made her generous donation, Santorum, accompanied by Karen and three of his children, paid Simmons a visit at her house in Dallas, to personally thank her.

“He was very appreciative” Simmons explained “and a couple days later, when he was in Texas, he came over to my house and we had about an hour and a half visit. I liked him even more after that.”

Simmons, whose husband Harold is a Romney supporter and has donated $200,000 to Restore Our Future, FEC disclosures show, told ABC News she recently gave another $200,000 to the group. That money she explained, was mostly for help with ad buys in Louisiana and her state of Texas.

Romney’s fundraising numbers in February were also strong: The campaign raised $11.9 million, almost double the $6.4 million raised in January.  The super PAC supporting Romney continued to raise significant money as well- taking in $6.42 million, on par with the $6.6 million raised in January.

Almost half of the $6.42 million raised by Restore Our Future in February came from Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who gave $3 million. Perry, a Republican mega-donor, is perhaps best known in the political realm as one of the leading financiers for the infamous “swift boat” campaign against John Kerry in 2004 -- a series of attacks which questioned Kerry’s military record in Vietnam.

Gingrich had a lackluster month in February -- he raised $2.6 million -- about half of his $5.5 million raised in January. His campaign debt decreased slightly -- from $1.7 million to $1.5 million -- but still remains high.

Paul also saw a drop in fundraising from January; his campaign took in $3.3 million in February after raising $4.5 million the prior month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Watchdog Group Says Romney Super PAC Broke Election Law

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A group that fights for campaign finance disclosures formally filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, claiming that the “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney is illegally showing an ad from the candidate’s 2008 run for president.

Last week, the PAC, Restore Our Future, began rerunning an ad from 2008 about Romney’s effort to help find a missing 14-year-old girl in New York City.  The only difference between the two ads is that in the old one, Romney says at the end, “I’m Mitt Romney, and I approved this message.”  In the new one, a woman says, “Restore Our Future is responsible for the content of this message.”

The overlap is an example of the muddied rules that are supposed to govern super PACs, nominally independent groups that can spend and raise unlimited amounts of money for candidates.  The FEC says that super PACs are forbidden from “coordinating” with campaigns over details on how to spend money for ads, but the regulation is difficult both to enforce and explain.

The Campaign Legal Center took the concrete step on Monday of claiming that the super PAC made “apparent illegal in-kind contributions” by paying for the ad to be shown again.

“Such an action would constitute a violation of the law,” the group said.

“Restore Our Future’s expenditure to republish a Romney campaign ad is considered a contribution from the Super PAC to the Romney campaign under FEC regulations, but Super PACs are prohibited from contributing to candidates,” the group’s lawyer, Paul Ryan, said in a statement.  “The airing of these ads constitutes a clear violation of federal law by the shadow campaign committee Restore Our Future.”

A purported violation of the law must be reported to the FEC by a third party because the commission has no policing branch to monitor super PACs or campaigns.

However, it’s unlikely that the FEC will act on the complaint in a significant way soon.  The FEC can’t confirm that it’s investigating a case until an investigation is complete, and it could take up to two years.  The Republican primaries for Michigan and Arizona, the states where the duplicated ad is running, are on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Restore Our Future had no response to the Campaign Legal Center’s complaint.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry ‘Retires’ Early To Collect Pension Benefits

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Perry’s personal financial disclosure released Friday shows the Texas governor essentially “retired” in January to begin the early collection of pension benefits, drastically increasing his take home pay as governor.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure revealed Perry’s gross annual income as governor of Texas of $150,000 was supplemented in the last year by a $7,698 annuity each month, totaling $92,376 a year. This raises the Texas governor’s total annual income to more than $240,000.

The story was first reported by the Texas Tribune.

Ray Sullivan, communications director for Perry, told ABC News the governor started receiving the Texas state employee retirement annuity on Jan. 31, 2011, and said “the annuity is consistent with Texas state law and Employee Retirement System rules.”

Per Sullivan, Perry, 61, qualified for the annuity based on the state’s rule of 80, which combined Perry’s service in the U.S. military, state service and age.

Sullivan noted “Perry continues to pay into the Employees Retirement System with a 6.5 percent withholding from his state salary.”

Perry has admonished the distribution of special perks to members of Congress and also called for reforms to the Social Security system.

The FEC disclosure also revealed Perry’s wife, Anita, received an $65,000 annual consulting fee from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jenny Craig, Waffle House, Panda Express and Mitt Romney

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- What do diet guru Jenny Craig, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers all have in common?
They have all maxed out in donations to Mitt Romney’s campaign, according to the presidential hopeful’s FEC fundraising report.
The Romney campaign reported earning more than $18.3 million in the second quarter, and there are more than a few familiar names among the 23 pages of contributors listed in the report.
In addition to Johnson, who is also on Romney’s fundraising committee, the Jets’ general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, also gave the maximum $2,500 to the campaign, as did Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, contributed $1,000 to the campaign. ESPN CEO George Bodenheimer contributed $2,000.
And then there are the foodies.
In addition to weight loss expert Craig, Andrew and Peggy Cherng, the owners of the Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express, each gave to the campaign, as did Charles Valluzzo, one of the largest McDonald’s franchise holders in the country. Greg Schenk, the CEO of the Salt Lake City gourmet cookie company Cookietree, maxed out to the Romney campaign.  And to wash it all down, Clyde Tuggle, a senior vice president at the Coca-Cola company, gave $1,000.
The big names in the travel industry were also generous -- Romney is, after all, named after hotel giant Willard Marriot, whom Romney Sr. considered one of his best friends.
At least twelve members of the Marriott clan gave to the campaign, including the CEO of Marriott International. Bill Marriott.
Andrew Pritzer of Hyatt hotel fame gave $2,500. One might note that Pritzer’s sister, Penny, is a major Obama bundler and even chaired his fundraising committee in 2008.  And this is the same Pritzer family that made headlines after heirs of the multi-billion-dollar fortune sued each other, accusing their relatives of allegedly withholding some of the empire’s massive loot in a convoluted scheme involving distant cousins and half-siblings.
And those names omitted from the list of contributors so far this campaign? Longtime Romney supporters Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
Neither Hatch’s nor Brown’s offices immediately responded to requests for comments on their plans to give to Romney.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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