Federal Election Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C. Evan Bush / Center for Public Integrity
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Midnight Jan. 31 was the deadline for super PACs and presidential campaigns to file their end-of-the-year financial disclosure statements with the Federal Election Commission. To get a look at some of last night’s action, iWatch News pulled together the most revealing takeaways from campaign spending during the year 2011.

  • Just hours after being declared winner of the Florida primary, records from Mitt Romney’s main super PAC, Restore Our Future, show $30 million in contributions during 2011 — more than any of his rival’s campaigns.
  • Overall, Democratic super PACs raised very little compared to their GOP counterparts — just over $19 million last year.
  • Harold Simmons and his company, Dallas-based Contran Corp., surfaced repeatedly in last night’s disclosures. Simmons gave the single largest individual contribution by donating $5 million to GOP super PAC powerhouse American Crossroads, on top of a $2 million contribution to the group from Contran. His company also gave a pair of $500,000 donations to Rick Perry’s super PAC, Make Us Great Again, and Simmons himself donated another $500,000 to Newt Gingrich’s super PAC, Winning Our Future.

You can also read our Storify compiled from the best of disclosure day Twitter activity.

Winning Our Future

iWatch News recently reported two $5 million donations from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife to Newt Gingrich’s main super PAC, but the pair of contributions wasn’t reflected in last night’s disclosure, since they gave in January. Winning Our Future still reported $2.1 million in contributions — including six figure donations from Adelson’s niece and step-daughter.

Strong America Now

The smaller of the two super PACs supporting Newt Gingrich, reported $101,000 in contributions all from a single donor. Mike George of Dallas was the sole donor. He lists himself as a “self-employed businessman.” George is founder and treasurer of the group and the creator of the “Lean Six Sigma” process, a waste-elimination and corporate streamlining method, which Gingrich pledged to adopt.

Leaders for Families

The smaller of the two pro-Santorum super PACs brought in $150,000 and spent all $150,000, according to its FEC disclosure filing. Leaders for Families received $50,000 from Wyoming billionaire Foster Friess, who has been bankrolling Red, White and Blue Fund, the larger of Santorum’s two super PACs. Red, White and Blue Fund made its own contributions totaling $75,000, and real estate manager Carles Parlato gave $25,000.

Red White and Blue Fund

This super PAC aligned with Rick Santorum raised only $730,000. Of that, $331,000 came from billionaire Foster Friess, an investor from Jackson, Wyoming.

Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow

The super PAC of comedian Stephen Colbert, raised over $825,000 in 2011 from donors such as Pat Magroin, Ibin Yerkinoff, and Frumunda Mabalz. (Say them out loud, just not around a crowd.)

Our Destiny PAC

This super PAC supporting failed GOP candidate Jon Huntsman reported its biggest donor was the candidate’s father, who gave $2 million of the group’s $2.7 million haul. Huntsman Sr. made a fortune in the chemical manufacturing business.

Restoring Prosperity Fund

Formally known as Americans for Rick Perry (after the Texas governor dropped out of the race), Restoring Prosperity Fund also relied on several heavy hitters. Among the donors were James Pitcock Jr. ($50,000), a longtime supporter; Kenny A. Trout ($50,000), listed by Forbes as the 358th richest man in America; Nathan Crain ($25,000), who was named by the group as their national finance chairman in July; and the Anderson Columbia company ($25,000), a construction company based in Florida.

The League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund

This section of the nationwide environmental group raised over $140,000 during the fourth quarter of 2011. Its top donors: Lawrence Linden ($25,000), a banker with Goldman Sachs; Scott Nathan ($70,000), a managing director with the Boston-based Baupost Group hedge fund; and Stephen Bing ($25,000), a movie producer in Los Angeles who is a long-time Democratic donor with ties to the Clintons.

New Prosperity Foundation

This pro-GOP group raised more than $200,000, primarily from a handful of wealthy donors. Sam Zell gave $50,000, which is likely to annoy employees of Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Zell took the company private and led the venerable chain into bankruptcy. Other donors include the Maclean Fogg Company ($50,000), a manufacturer; and Ron Gidwitz ($25,000), a businessman with ties to the outside spending group, Americans for Prosperity.

Last updated 2/01/2012 at 12:22 PM EST

Alexandra Duszak, John Dunbar, Rachael Marcus, Aaron Mehta, Peter Stone, Sarah Whitmire and Cole Goins all contributed to this report.

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.