Presidential campaign donors moving to super PACs


A few weeks after some individual donors hit their campaign contribution limits to President Obama’s reelection campaign, they made donations to the super PAC supporting him, extending their financial support to the shadow campaign that's backing his bid for another four years in the White House.

This new trend has just begun to emerge in the most recent super PAC financial disclosures filed over the weekend with the Federal Election Commission. It's another impact of the sweeping changes in campaign finance law set off by the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which opened the door for unlimited contributions to organizations that expressly advocate for or against a candidate's election. That gives deep-pocketed supporters a new avenue for showing their support once they've passed the FEC limits, which limit individual donors to $5,000 per election cycle — $2,500 for the primary election and $2,500 for the general.

An analysis of super PAC and candidates' financial filings by Sunlight shows donors to both Obama and his almost-certain GOP rival, Mitt Romney, beginning to move to super PACs as they hit their ceiling for giving to the White House hopefuls. While Obama’s campaign has been slower to start up and peak on fundraising, more individual donors to his campaign have also donated to various Democratic-leaning super PACs compared to those backing Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee. So far, 45 of Obama's maxed-out campaign contributors and 13 of Romney's have given to various super PACs, an analysis of campaign contributions and a list of super PAC donors for this election cycle show.

Another Sunlight analysis shows how closely intertwined Priorities USA Action and Obama campaign fundraising are geographically.

Seventeen of Obama's maxed-out donors have also donated to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC. One of those is Amy Goldman, a million dollar donor to the super PAC. Associated with Sol Goldman Investments, a top New York City real estate company that owns about 100 buildings in Manhattan, she hit her $5,000 limit for the Obama 2012 campaign last fall. Last month, she made a $1 million donation to Priorities USA Action. 

A philanthropist and author, Goldman has also donated another million dollars to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC associated with the women’s health organization. While her $5,000 donation to the president's reelection campaign represented the first time she contributed to Obama, Goldman has consistently supported other Democrats including Sens.Deborah Ann Stabenow, D-Mich., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and has given a total of $37,000 this election cycle, FEC records show.

In addition to Priorities USA Action, which has spent $1.65 million so far running campaign ads opposing Mitt Romney, a number of other Democratic super PACs set up to elect House and Senate candidates also benefited from the largesse of contributors who have hit the giving limits for the Obama campaign. DGA Action, the super PAC set up by the Democratic Governors Association — the leading organization in the battle to recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker– saw contributions from six maxed-out Obama backers. Another four of gave to American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC founded by David Brock. Some Obama backers have also donated to Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the satirical super PAC started by late night comedian Stephen Colbert.

For the GOP, Romney’s donors who overlap with super PAC donors are far fewer, possibly a reflection of the fact that GOP donors were scattered among other presidential campaigns. While four maxed-out donors have also donated to Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Romney, two have donated to American Crossroads, the trailblazing Republican super PAC that was the brainchild of Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s political campaign guru.

A few months after he maxed out to the Romney campaign fund, Joseph Davenport of Pointer Management Co., a Chattanooga, Tenn.-based hedge fund, made a $50,000 contribution to Restore Our Future.  Another big dollar donor to Restore after he maxed out to the campaign: Donald Foss of Credit Acceptance Corporation who contributed some $35,000 in March 2012. Both men have also given another $30,000 apiece to other Republican candidates this cycle.

Two other Romney donors, J.J. Matthews and William Goodwin gave $150,000 to American Crossroads and $100,000 to YG Action fund  respectively. YG Action Fund is the super PAC set up by Majority Leader Eric Cantor to re-elect House republicans.

List of maxed out Obama donors who have given to super PACs

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List of maxed our Romney donors who have given to super PACs

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