Gingrich, Others Aided by Super PAC Millions

A type of political funding group that did not exist in the 2008 election is vital to some campaigns. Some donors are wealthy people who have maxed out their giving via other means.

Updated 8:49 a.m., Feb. 22, 2012

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum recently appeared in and near Suwanee to drum up support for their presidential campaigns. But if not for a relatively new type of funding group catering to wealthy donors, their campaigns might have been over by then.

Super PACs (for Political Action Committee) are officially known as "independent-expenditure only committees." They arose in the 2010 election, and they can raise unlimited sums from individuals, corporations, unions and other groups, according to wikipedia.org. Also, super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties since they are "independent." Wikipedia reported that The New York Times described in February 2012 several super PACs that were run or advised by a candidate's former staff or associates.

"Without the flow of super PAC money, the Republican race would be over," said Anthony Corrado, a campaign-finance expert at Colby College in Maine, in USA TODAY.

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $10 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC aiding former House speaker Gingrich, USA TODAY reported.  In a Forbes magazine article, Adelson said he is willing to donate an additional "$10 million or $100 million" to aid Gingrich. "I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections, but as along as it's doable, I'm going to do it," Adelson said.

Another organization that tallies super PAC fund-raising is Open Secrets. It shows that candidate Ron Paul has raised more money via this route than Santorum.

Also, according to an Open Secrets blog post on Facebook: Five of the 18 individual donors to the largest super PAC that is backing Gingrich had topped out their giving to Gingrich for the primary season, including two who gave the maximum directly to the former House speaker for the general election as well as the primaries. 

Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC backing President Obama's re-election, raised just shy of $59,000 in January — a fraction of the $27.2 million raised last month alone by five leading GOP super PACs, according to USA TODAY.

Georgia is one of several states that holds presidential primaries on March 6 (Super Tuesday), and with 73 delegates it is the largest prize on that date. Gingrich called Georgia a "springboard" to election success during his Suwanee visit.



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