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Super PAC filings show who big donors of 2011 were

by Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

The deadline for presidential super PACs like Restore Our Future and Winning Our Future--supporting, respectively, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich--and other committees to file their disclosures with the Federal Election Commission fell at 11:59 p.m. Sunlight's Reporting Group combed through the filings, looking to see who's writing six- and seven-figure checks to the super PACs that are trying to influence voters in the Republican primaries--and beyond. We're also providing a chart tracking super PACs playing in the presidential race where you can download .csv files of their latest FEC filings. If you do, be sure to check our our data notes here.

-- Top Donors to Endorse Liberty include PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek. Thiel, a libertarian, is the founder of the Thiel Foundation. The Foundation seeks to "defend and promote freedom in all its dimensions: political, personal and economic," according the website. James O'Neill, co-founder of the foundation also made a donation to the PAC. 

-- Mike George is the founder of Strong America Now, a super PAC that supported Newt Gingrich, and the group's sole funder. George is listed as a self-employed business man from Austin, Texas according to reports released yesterday through the Federal Election Commission and a Tea Party activist. George gave $101,000 to his group through December 31 of last year and spent that money mainly on robo-calls and mailers supporting Newt Gingrich and opposing Mitt Romney. 

-- Texas businessman Harold Simmons, who had supported Texas presidential candidate Rick Perry, poured $5 million into American Crossroads’ super PAC during the last months of 2011; his company, Contran Corp., donated another $2 million. A privately held holding company, Contran has stakes in a long list of companies, and reported spending $320,000 on federal lobbying last year. One of these, Waste Control Specialists, a radioactive waste facility that got favorable treatment by Perry’s Texas administration reported lobbying on waste treatment and the Endangered Species Act. Another company, Titanium corp., weighed in on tariffs. Simmons is a major donor to GOP candidates and parties >  and was a bundler for former presidential candidate John McCain.

-- Indiana-based Whiteco Industries, which operates real estate, construction, and other businesses, kicked in $1 million in November to American Crossroads. The company’s vice president, John Peterman (not to be confused with the John Peterman made famous on Seinfeld), also gave $100,000 to the group in 2010. He and his wife have also contributed more than $235,000 over the years, mostly to Republicans but with some notable exceptions: a $2,300 donation to Barack Obama in 2007. (His contributions to the McCain campaign were later refunded.) 

-- Environmentally friendly cleaning products company Melaleuca and three subsidiaries collectively contributed $1 million to Romney.

-- Lots of money from financial firms and hedge funds going to Restore Our Future. Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies, gave $1 million. In 2010, he funded ads that attacked Rep. Peter DeFasio, D-Ore.

-- Eli Publishing and F8 LLC, two businesses that share an address in Provo, Utah, both gave $1 million to Restore Our Future. The donations have been linked to Steven J. Lund, a director of anti-aging cream company Nu Skin, who's listed as the agent of one of those businesses in Utah records.

-- Another major donor to Restore Our Future is Tiger Management's Julian Robertson who gave the PAC $1 million.

-- Megadonor Bob Perry, a big supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, contributed $500,000 to Restore Our Future.

-- Spreading it around: Harold Simmons gave to both the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future ($500,000) and the pro-Perry Make Us Great Again ($1 million).

-- Restore Our Future gets $500,000 from MBF Family Investments and $500,000 Miguel "Mike" Fernandez of MBF Healthcare partners. Fernandez was fined by the FEC for making corporate contributions to a 2004 Senate campaign. Super PACs don't face those restrictions.

-- Romney's Bain Capital connections pay off. Three Bain executives, Dominic Ferrante ($250,000), Steve Barnes ($125,000) and John Connaughton ($250,000) contribute a total of $625,000. Debra Barnes, Steve Barnes' spouse, kicked in another $125,000, bringing the total to $750,000.

--Restore Our Future, which supports Romney, got $1 million from the Pete Best of the Koch Brothers. Bill Koch, a Koch brother who left Koch Industries to form Oxbow Carbon, gave $250,000 to Restore Our Future; Oxbow Carbon kicked in another $750,000. 

-- Taking a quick look at Romney's bundling reports: Some of the high stakes bundlers include Barclay's lobbyist Patrick Durkin ($419,925) and Clearwater Group's Austin Barbour ($210,700). In the last quarter Durkin raised $187,025 and total earnings for Romney's campaign via bundlers is just over $1 million.

-- Other big donors to Winning Our Future, which supports Gingrich: W.S. Propst of Alabama, in commercial real estate, $500,000; Sivan Ochshorn, who the Forward identifies as a daughter of Miriam Adelson and an executive Las Vegas Sands, the company that Miriam and Sheldon Adelson own, $500,000; and $250,000 from both Yasmin and Oren Lukatz. Yasmin Lukatz is another daughter of Miriam Adelson's from a prior marriage.

-- No donations from Sheldon Adelson or his wife reported by Winning Our Future, the super PAC aligned with Newt Gingrich (this could be because the reported $10 million donation by the couple came after the Dec. 30 reporting deadline), but he did get $500,000 from big GOP donor Harold Simmons. Lobbyists for Simmons' company Contran and its subsidiaries reported being paid $320,000 in 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org. 

-- Priorities USA Action, the super PAC started by former White House staffers in April 2011 raised $1,239,080 in the last quarter of 2011 getting their cash on hand up to more than $4.4 million. So far, the super PAC has made independent expenditures totaling $321,229 on ads against GOP presidential front runner Mitt Romney.

-- Fourth quarter reports show $215,234 in dark money coming into Priorities USA Action from the affiliated 501 c(4) which does not have to disclose donors.

-- Not super PAC related, but Romney's campaign reports $24,278,503 in the last quarter.

-- House Majority PAC formed in 2011 by former DCCC official reports $910,215 in receipts in the last quarter of 2011 and has $1.1 million in hand. Major donor to the super PAC created to reelect House Democrats include Newsweb Corporation CEO Fred Eychaner who donated $150,000 in October. Eyechaner has earlier given to the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action.

-- Texas Gov. Rick Perry's exit from the race left the biggest super PAC supporting him, Make Us Great Again, with more than $600,000 in the bank. In less than five months of existence, the committee collected more than $5.4 million, mostly in large chunks: The roster of contributors lists plenty of $25,000, $50,000, $100,000. Robert McNair, the owner of the Houston Texans football team, kicked in $100,000 as did Drayton McLane, former owner of Major League Baseball's Houston Astros.

Perry famously attacked rival Mitt Romney as a "vulture capitalist" but the PAC backing him got a $1 million contribution from Harold Simmons, who made a reputation as a corporate raider. In 2004, Simmons also helped fund the "Swift Boat" ads which attacked the military record of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a Vietnam veteran who was that year's Democratic nominee. Two other donors to Make Us Great Again are on the Forbes  400 Richest Americans list: Telecom executive turned horse owner Kenny Troutt and former computer executive Darwin Deason (#379). Troutt gave $150,000; Deason, $250,000. The pro-Perry Pac also got $50,000 from the politically active Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a tribe with extensive gambling interests.