Federal Politics

Published — December 12, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

GOP gov’s group raises $100 million in mostly losing effort

Koch brother, unions among top donors to state groups

Introduction

Despite outraising its Democratic counterpart by a 2-to-1 margin, the Republican Governors Association won only four of 11 races in the 2012 election, a far cry from the success it enjoyed two years ago.

The Washington D.C.-based political organization raised almost $100 million, according to recently released Internal Revenue Service data. The group targeted six states it considered winnable, losing five of them. Overall, Democrats won seven of this year’s 11 contests, but the GOP still managed to pick up one seat in North Carolina, long held by Democrats.

The top donors to the so-called “527” organization, which can accept unlimited contributions from billionaires, corporations and unions, are familiar Republican Party patrons — No. 1 is Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder and perennial RGA supporter, who gave $3.25 million. That’s a little more than half of what he gave in 2010.

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is No. 2, with $3 million in donations between him and his wife. According to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, Adelson is the top donor to super PACs in 2012, doling out more than $93 million along with his family.

Conservative billionaire David Koch — who has not made any contributions to super PACs — was the organization’s third-highest donor, writing two checks totaling $2 million. Koch is co-owner of the second-largest privately held company in America, Koch Industries, an energy conglomerate.

Seven of the RGA’s top 10 donors are corporate executives who gave at least $1 million. Two of them, Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin, are hedge fund managers.

Six of the Democratic Governors Association’s top donors were unions. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees topped the DGA donors list, giving about $1.3 million. The Service Employees International Union gave about $1.1 million while the American Federation of Teachers gave at least $772,000.

Top corporate donors to the DGA included pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, which gave almost $700,000, and AstraZeneca, which contributed nearly $600,000. The companies also gave comparable sums to the RGA. The DGA also got corporate support from health insurer United Healthcare Services Inc., and AT&T.

The DGA raised nearly $50 million, the organization’s “strongest fundraising year ever,” according to spokeswoman Kate Hansen.

The DGA and RGA have devised national strategies for collecting unlimited funds from unions, corporations, and wealthy individuals, and funneling the money into state races. Using a network of state-based PACs, the RGA and DGA have maneuvered around various state limits on campaign giving.

“They’ve had an enormous impact on state elections across the nation,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, an election law expert at Stetson Law School. “In many states they were consistently a top spender.”

The circuitous methods used by both organizations to inject corporate and union cash into state races and mask the identity of its donors have raised legal questions, prompted lawsuits, and tested the capacity of state election boards to enforce limits on outside spending.

Both organizations have told the Center for Public Integrity that they fully comply with campaign finance laws, and that they report their donors and spending to the IRS.

The RGA set up a federal super PAC called RGA Right Direction, and fed it with $9.8 million in contributions. The super PAC — another type of organization that can accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations — then made a large contribution to Indiana Republican candidate Mike Pence, and bought ads in tight state races in Montana, Washington, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.

Super PACs are normally used to spend money on federal campaigns. By passing the funds through the super PAC, which reported its sole donor as the RGA, the association effectively shielded the identities of the donors who paid for ads in the state races.

In North Carolina, the RGA spent millions of dollars, directly from corporate treasuries to win in a state long led by Democratic governors. The unlimited contributions from dozens of corporations across the country went toward ads supporting Republican candidate Pat McCrory, who won convincingly over Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.

The DGA, too, used a network of state-affiliated PACs, to fund ad campaigns in battleground states like Montana and North Carolina. It was the primary funder of a PAC called North Carolina Citizens for Progress, which purchased ads attacking McCrory.

While America’s wealthiest corporate executives tend to prefer the RGA, and unions give almost exclusively to the DGA, some donors played both sides this election.

Agricultural giant Monsanto, credit card company Visa and health insurance company Humana were large donors to both the RGA and DGA — each giving about $100,000 to both groups.

Despite the Republicans’ win-loss record, RGA spokesman Michael Schrimpf called 2012 “a successful year by any standard” with Republicans now in control of governorships in 30 states. Most of those gains, however, came in 2010. The North Carolina win and the failed effort to recall Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, in June, were high points for the GOP.

In addition, in five states targeted by the RGA where it lost, the Democrats held advantages unrelated to fundraising.

Missouri and West Virginia featured Democratic incumbents. Three other states — Montana, Washington and New Hampshire — had open seats where a Democrat had previously been in power.

The two organizations will put their fundraising powers to the test again in 2013, when Virginia and New Jersey choose their next governors.

Michael Beckel contributed to this report.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.