Fueled by six seven-figure donations, a new super PAC spinoff founded last summer by the Koch brothers has emerged as the biggest fundraiser of campaign 2014’s third quarter.
An analysis of the thousands of committee filings due last night at the Federal Election Committee by Sunlight’s Real-Time Federal Campaign Finance tracker shows that Freedom Partners Action Fund raised more than $15 million during the three months that ended Sept. 30, by far the largest amount reported of any of the quarterly filers. The next closest was a political action committee of the National Education Association, with $7.5 million in receipts.
Top 10 fundraisers: Q3
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The majority of Freedom Partners haul — $9.5 million — came from six donors. The biggest contributor: New York financier Robert Mercer, who gave $2.5 million. Siblings Charles and David Koch each wrote checks for $2 million. Checks for $1 million came from the Nebraska-based Clarence Werner Revocable Trust, and Diane Hendricks, frequently reported to be the richest woman in Wisconsin. The Mountaire Corporation, an Arkansas-based chicken processing company, gave two checks for $500,000 each, one in June and another in September, according to FEC records.
While in past cycles the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce — a 501(c)6 nonprofit — played a background role in the Kochs’ political network, the super PAC arm sprang to life this summer with the stated goal of helping to elect free market candidates. In has been focused mainly on competitive Senate races: The group has spent to defeat Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas; $2.9 million to support Jodi Ernst, a Republican vying for an open Senate seat in Iowa, and $1.8 million against Greg Orman, an independent who is giving Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, an unexpectedly competitive race.
The top 10 fundraising list also suggests that Republicans running for House seats are not lacking for funds: House Speaker John Boehner has two committees on the list and Congressional Leadership Fund, which raised $2.6 million over the quarter, is a super PAC dedicated to elected GOP congressional candidates.
Other news of note
Fundraising by Huck PAC, a political action committee associated with former Arkansas governor and sometimes GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, jumped better than eight-fold in last quarter. Major contributors included a number of state party and candidate campaign committees, suggesting possible fees for Huckabee, a much-in-demand speaker. The PAC is spending money meanwhile on direct mail, a digital communications company run by former GOP staffers and on an Arkansas-based consulting firm that one of Huckabee’s former staffers founded.
More out of state money is pouring in to New Hampshire’s Senate race as a super PAC backing Scott Brown major cash infusion from Houston Texans owner Bob McNair gave a half million dollars to that group, while New Balance executive James Davis added $100,000 to the effort.