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Shadowy super PAC spends $1 million in Connecticut House race

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The Government Integrity Fund Action Network, a super PAC that to date has disclosed just $10,500 in contributions, today reported dropping a money bomb in a Connecticut House race: $1.1 million in to produce and air ads in opposition to Elizabeth Esty, the Democratic candidate in her state's 5th Congressional District.

The money more than levels the financial field in the competitive race for the open seat: Esty has raised $2.1 million for her race, with about $857,000 left to spend down the stretch, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Her Republican opponent, Andrew Roraback, has raised just $572,000, of which he has just $148,000 left in the bank.

The late super PAC ad buy comes at a time competing polls have shown each candidate in the lead, though the Cook Political Report and RealClearPolitics.com both rate the seat as leaning Democratic. The current occupant, Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is running for Senate.

The Government Integrity Fund Action Network registered as a super PAC with the Federal Election Commission in July 2011. It's allied with a nonprofit group, the Government Integrity Fund, that ran ads attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who's in a tight battle with State Treasurer Josh Mandel. ProPublica reported that Ohio state filings show that Tom Norris, a state lobbyist who hired a Mandel aide for his firm, was the group's chairman.

The handwritten filings that the group's super PAC has made with the Federal Election Commission shed little additional light. The most recent filing shows just two donors, one from the Government Integrity Fund for $500, and one for $10,000 from Roger Hertog, a wealthy investment manager who also serves as a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Hertog is also a big donor to political candidates and causes; he gave $50,000 to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign in that state's recall election, and $250,000 to American Crossroads. 

Target Enterprises, which buys media time for political organizations, made single request on Sept. 4 for media time to the CBS affiliate in Cincinnati for the Government Integrity Fund and the National Association of Manufacturers. Jeff Ostermayer, a spokesperson for NAM, said that there's no relationship between the two groups.

The Government Integrity Fund Action Network's next FEC disclosure is due today; we'll update the post with more information on their donors.

Update: The Government Integrity Fund Action Network did not file a third quarter report. Treasurer William Todd said that the group didn't raise any money in the quarter; the $1.1 million ad buy was made on the strength of donations made after the filing period ended on Sept. 30. They won't have to release donors until they file their pre-election report, due at the FEC on Oct. 25.