New Romney Fund Highlights Fundraising Muscle

Jul 16, 2012
Originally published on July 23, 2012 1:30 pm

Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign says a recently formed arm of the organization collected more than $10 million a week during a three-month period this spring. And most of the money care from high-end donors.

Romney Victory Inc., got its first four contributions on April 6 — three donations of $50,000 each and one check for $350. Since early April, it's pulled in $140 million.

To put that $140 million in perspective, the Obama Victory Fund had raised $185 million as of May 31. And President Obama has been doing top-dollar fundraisers for more than a year, with the Obama Victory Fund receiving its first contributions in April 2011.

The average donation to Romney Victory Inc., is $6,296; to the Obama Victory Fund, $3,366.

Romney Victory Inc. and the Obama Victory Fund both are joint fundraising committees. They make high-dollar fundraising almost as easy for the candidate as it is for unregulated superPACs.

With a single check, a donor can give the legal limit to the candidate's campaign, the national committee and several state party committees. The maximum allowed for all this is $75,800 per person.

"What we're seeing now is the easy money, the money that was out there to be gotten quickly," says Anthony Corrado, a political scientist at Colby College who follows political money trends. He says Romney Victory Inc. got started late thanks to the drawn-out GOP primaries, but as the smoke cleared the big donors opened their wallets.

There was a similar, dramatic outpouring of cash in the 2004 presidential campaign. After Democrats closed ranks behind Sen. John Kerry, he was able to outraise President George W. Bush throughout the summer.

Corrado expects that this year, Romney Victory Inc. will continue to show extraordinary numbers, "because it's the principal emphasis of their fundraising throughout the rest of the summer."

When it comes to donors who have contributed the maximum amount during this election cycle — $75,800 — the Romney committee reports 51 of them; the Obama committee reports 17.

Unlike the donors to superPACs or politically active social welfare organizations, these donors are giving directly to the candidate's campaign committee and the party strategists working with him.

There is one curiosity about Romney Victory Inc. — the amount of cash on hand. The joint fundraising committees usually serve as pass-throughs, shoveling the money out to the candidates and the party operatives as fast as possible. They keep just enough for upcoming expenses.

For example, last month, the Obama Victory Fund reported cash on hand of $4.5 million.

Romney Victory Inc. says it has more than 12 times that much: $58 million.

"That really is an anomaly, that big cash buildup that's going on here," says Corrado. "I've never seen that before."

There are any number of things it could be spent on. It could be that Romney Victory Inc. will do more than fundraising, and that it's building up a budget for, say, ground organizing. The Romney campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.

Obviously, it will spend that $58 million on something, long before Election Day. But voters may have to wait to find out exactly how it will be spent.

Unlike every other component of the two presidential campaigns, Romney Victory Inc. has chosen to disclose its finances only every three months. Its next filing is due in mid-October.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is showing more of its fundraising muscle. Romney already outraised President Obama for two straight months. And now, a recently formed arm of Romney's organization reports that over three months this spring, it collected more than $10 million a week.

Most of that money came from high-end donors, as we hear from NPR's Peter Overby.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Romney Victory, Incorporated got its first four contributions on April 6th, three donations of $50,000 each and one check for 350 bucks. Since early April, it's pulled in $140 million. To put that $140 million in perspective, the Obama Victory Fund had raised $185 million as of May 31st and the president has been doing top dollar fundraisers for more than a year.

Romney Victory, Inc. and the Obama Victory Fund are joint fundraising committees. They make high dollar fundraising almost as easy for the candidate as it is for unregulated superPACs. With a single check, a donor can give the legal limit to the candidate's campaign, to the national committee and several state party committees. The maximum allowed for all this is $75,800 per person.

Colby College political scientist Tony Corrado follows political money trends. He says Romney Victory, Inc. got started late, thanks to the drawn out GOP primaries, but then, as the smoke cleared, the big donors opened their wallets.

ANTHONY CORRADO: What we're seeing now is the easy money, the money that was out there to be gotten quickly.

OVERBY: There was a similar dramatic outpouring of cash in the 2004 presidential campaign. After Democrats closed ranks behind Senator John Kerry, he was able to out-raise President George W. Bush throughout the summer. Corrado expects that, this year, Romney Victory, Inc. will continue to show extraordinary numbers.

CORRADO: Because it's the principle emphasis of their fundraising throughout the rest of the summer.

OVERBY: In fact, when it comes to those maxed out $75,800 donors, the Romney Committee reports 51 of them, the Obama Committee just 17. Unlike the donors to superPACs or politically active social welfare organizations, these donors are giving directly to the candidate's campaign committee and to the party strategists working with them.

There is one curiosity about Romney Victory, Inc. The amount of cash on hand. The joint fundraising committees usually service pass-throughs, shoveling the money out to the candidates and the party operatives as fast as possible. They keep just enough for upcoming expenses. So, for example, last month, the Obama Victory Fund reported cash on hand of $4.5 million. Romney Victory, Inc. says it has more than 12 times that much, $58 million. Again, Tony Corrado.

CORRADO: That really is an anomaly, that big cash buildup that's going on here. I've never seen that before.

OVERBY: There are any number of things it could be spent on. It could be that Romney Victory, Inc. will do more than fundraising and that it's building up a budget for, say, ground organizing. The Romney campaign didn't respond to a query this afternoon. Obviously, it will spend that $58 million on something long before election day, but voters may have to wait to find out exactly what.

Unlike every other component of the two presidential campaigns, Romney Victory, Inc. has chosen to disclose its finances only every three months. Its next filing is due in mid-October.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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