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Ranking: 10

Total contributions to super PACs: $9.8 million*

  • $9.8 million to RGA Right Direction PAC (pro-Republican), formerly known as the RGA Ohio PAC

Notable state-level contributions:

  • $8.3 million to the Florida Republican Party (2010)
  • $6 million to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (2010)
  • $3 million to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (2010)


The Republican Governors Association’s appearance on a list of top donors to super PACs — formed to spend money on federal races — at first glance appears to be a mistake. But a close look at the Washington, D.C.-based “527” organization’s disclosure filings shows it is using super PACs to funnel funds into state races.

The recipient of the RGA’s generosity is a super PAC called “RGA Right Direction PAC.” The super PAC takes the money it receives from the RGA — which, as a 527, can accept unlimited funds from corporations and wealthy individuals — and spends it on state races.

In an October 2012 filing, Right Direction disclosed a $250,000 contribution to North Dakota’s Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who assumed the job in 2010, when then-Gov. John Hoeven resigned to become a U.S. senator. In North Dakota, corporate donations to candidates are prohibited, but contributions from political action committees to candidates are unlimited, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Center for Public Integrity has also previously reported that Right Direction gave $1 million to Mike Pence, the Republican House member who won a bid in November to become governor of Indiana, where corporate contributions are limited.

The RGA has maintained that all of its donations have been by the books.

The RGA has been working to put Republicans in the nation’s governor’s mansions for almost 50 years. Its past leaders include some of the biggest names in the Republican Party: former President Ronald Reagan, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Over the past few months, the Center for Public Integrity has exposed the complex money-moving schemes the RGA uses to benefit Republican governors’ campaigns. In this year’s North Carolina election, the group has spent millions on ads underwritten by corporations who were unaware of how their money was being spent.

In Florida’s 2010 election, the RGA took advantage of a loophole in state law when it gave $8.3 million to the Florida Republican Party, which in turn contributed $5.2 million to winning candidate Gov. Rick Scott.

And in Pennsylvania, the RGA contributed $6 million of the $28.7 million Gov. Tom Corbett raised, including a $1.5 million contribution from an affiliated group whose donors are unknown.

Last updated: Jan. 17, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.

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John Dunbar worked for 15 years at the Center for Public Integrity, serving as its CEO from 2016 to 2018.