Mayday PAC sheds light on largest donors

Screen shot of a May Day PAC commercial showing voters holding a sign that says "Money Out of Congree"
Image credit: Mayday PAC, YouTube

In a move to shed more light on its donors, Mayday PAC founder Lawrence Lessig announced Tuesday that the reform-focused PAC has provided the names of all $10,000-plus contributors on its website, available for download. The group reports it has had support from 60,000 small donors and 75 large donors who want to push campaign finance reform to the top of Congress’ agenda.

However, the group is not providing personal details about donors giving between $200 and $10,000, despite an earlier promise from Lessig to do so, and the fact that this information will be disclosed, as required by law, to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  In his statement, Lessig (who is also on the Sunlight Foundation’s Advisory Boardexplains why:

The group’s newest release counts $7.8 million in funds. About 57 percent of that money falls in to the anonymized category. The committee’s next FEC release — which will contain more detailed data  — won’t be public until Oct. 15.

Among the big donations that came in after the group’s first FEC report (which covered April through the end of June):

  • Arnold Hiatt, former Stride Rite footwear president, seven-figure Democratic donor and treasurer of the kindred Fund for the Republic (which also aims to reduce the influence of wealthy special interests): $500,000.
  • Matt Cutts of Google and his wife Cindy (Matt has donated $245,000 to Jonathan Soros’ Friends of Democracy in the past), $100,000.
  • John Johnson, $100,000.
  • David Milner, founder of NuGen Capital management, $100,000.
  • William Von Mueffling, CEO of hedge fund manager Cantillon Capital who has given around $40,000 in political contributions, mostly to Democrats: $100,000.

The road ahead:

Mayday has announced that it will first put its ample war chest on two of the five races it will target in the coming months: Republican Senate candidate Jim Rubens in New Hampshire and Democrat Staci Appel, who’s running for Rep. Tom Latham’s old seat in Iowa. In both cases the group will be wading into races alongside partisan outside spending groups.

The New Hampshire Republican primary won’t be decided until Sept. 9. So far, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is the slim favorite to win the nomination. The liberal Senate Majority PAC has spent $1 million attacking Brown, alongside a $350,000 ad blitz from the League of Conservation Voters tying him to “Big Oil.”

The only group to spend in favor of Rubens thus far is the optimistically-named New Hampshire PAC to Save America, bankrolled entirely by Patricia Humphrey of Concord.

Dark money is factoring in to the race as well: Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-affiliated dark money group, has yet to report any election-related spending to the FEC, but has hit incumbent Dem. Jeanne Shaheen in an anti-Obamacare ad.

In the congressional bid in Iowa’s Third District — which Stuart Rothenberg deems a pure toss-up —Mayday PAC will be contending with modest investments by the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks.