Not so super PACs
For every high-spending, politically-connected PAC, there are even more PACs that fail to accomplish much of anything. As of January 30, some 300 organizations have written letters to the FEC with their intention of raising unlimited money as a super PAC.
Any citizen, union or company (assuming the company is U.S. or has a U.S. subsidiary) may start a PAC — or 60 PACs, in the case of serial super PAC creator, Josue Larose.
While some PACs have causes without money, other PACs have money but no cause: The candidate they set out to assist, has dropped out of the race. What happens now. The remade landscape of campaign finance does not have clear guidelines on how orphan PACs should spend their money. Here a sampling of orphan PACs to see where the orphan money has gone so far.
Our Destiny PAC, created in support of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman raised $2.68 million. The largest donor to the PAC was Huntsman's father, Jon Huntsman Sr. He donated $1.8 million in support of his son, 70% of the total raised. Huntsman Sr. is the Chairman of the chemical company, Huntsman Corporation.
Our Destiny PAC also received a $100,000 boost from Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's son, Jim Walton, who is also a Walmart board member and Executive Officer of Arvest Bank.
Our Destiny PAC reports that it has $126,000 cash on hand and has not filed for termination. Reached by the Sunlight Foundation, the treasurer of Our Destiny PAC, Ronald M. Jacobs refused to comment about Our Destiny PAC's plans.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's exit from the GOP presidential race left several super PACs with an identiy crisis.
- The super PAC Make Us Great Again, which spent more than $3.9 million supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry, ended the year with more than $600,000 in its coffers.
- Another pro-Perry PAC, Americans for Rick Perry, has indicated plans to continue: It has morphed into the Restoring Prosperity Fund, with a website that doesn't offer much more than a vow to continue working for candidates in Senate and House races.
- Veterans for Perry, ended with no refunds on its termination report.
- Texans for America's Future , an anti-Perry super PAC, raised $125,000 dollars and has only spent about half of that money. Its treasurer is Jeff Rotkoff.One of Texans for America's Future biggest expenditures, $26,000, was to the Back to Basics PAC, a state-level PAC where Rotkoff used to work. PinPoint Public Affairs, where Rotkoff it the Principal, received $4,000. Rotkoff, himself, received $2,900 directly, as reimbursement. An additional $20,000 from Texans for America's Future went to the law firm and lobbying powerhouse, Covington & Burling LLP.Texans for America's Future had a single donor: Mostyn Law Firm P.C. In the 2010 election cycle, the firm was one of the top contributors to former Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas. Rotkoff once worked for Chet Edwards.
One option for super PACS that find themselves without a candidate: refunding donors. Another pro-Perry super PAC, Jobs for Iowa, issued $25,000 in refunds.
The 9-9-9 Fund, named for the catchphrase and tax policy of former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, raised $617,000 and still has $200,000 cash on hand. That might almost entirely spoken for, however: The committee still owes $185,000.
The 9-9-9 Fund did not seem to take advantage of the unlimited fundraising that super PACs are allowed. The largest donation was $5,000 from a Florida retiree. This amount is the legal limit for traditional PACs.
The Draft Herman Cain PAC changed its name to Beat Obama Political Action Committee. This committee has not filed for super PAC status but it illustrates one approach to how any orphan PAC can remake itself by adopting a new name and mission.
Keep Conservatives United, The Bachmann super PAC, raised $13,000 and created ads against Perry and in support of Bachmann. Except for a $250 donation from a retiree, all money came from Bob Harris, the Treasurer of the PAC. It is currently $6,500 in debt and has no cash on hand.