Lean Bush campaign operation signals new US playbook
2016 Candidates Raise Millions In Shadow of Super PACs.
Women showed Hillary Clinton the money in the first three months of her presidential campaign — representing more than 60 percent of the donors who supported the former secretary of state.Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush are building mammoth political operations to power them through the primary contests next year.
The first major campaign finance data dump of the 2016 presidential race is in, offering a look into how the candidates are raising and spending money.WASHINGTON — The first major quarterly presidential campaign fundraising disclosures came on Wednesday, but they showed barely half the money flooding into a race in which the campaigns have been overshadowed by the unlimited money super PACs supporting them. The campaign had already announced that it raised $45 million for the Democratic primary as of June 30, but a new campaign finance report made public Wednesday evening sheds new light on the campaign’s haul. Super PACs, supposedly independent committees that can raise unlimited sums from corporations, unions and individuals, played a big role in the 2012 Republican primary, but are taking over the 2016 campaign — and the fundraising totals show where the attention lies. Wednesday provided the first peek behind the fundraising curtains of most presidential candidates, with campaigns filing initial fundraising reports to federal regulators.
Already, just a few months into race, the figures tell a few clear stories: Hillary Clinton is amassing a huge warchest, Republicans are getting some huge outside spending totals, and this campaign is going to be all about big spending. That’s especially notable since men typically make up the vast majority of campaign donors — just over 70 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But the campaign also spent heavily, burning through $18.7 million in the second quarter of the year, leaving the campaign with $28.85 million in the bank. A campaign aide defended the spending, telling msnbc that it included large upfront investments that won’t need to be repeated in coming months on items that most campaigns wait to invest in until later in the cycle. Wednesday’s Federal Election Commission reports cover financial activity between April 1 and June 30, a period when almost all of the 22 presidential hopefuls jumped into the race, and list the names of everyone who gave at least $200.
Clinton herself contributed in-kind more than $275,000 to her campaign, mostly from staffers she paid before the campaign officially kicked off, the aide said. A look at a few of those shows just how much of a game-changer that outside money can be, especially for the candidates whose campaigns are already the most successful fundraisers. These and other powerful outside groups account for about two-thirds of the roughly $400 million raised so far for the presidential election, according to an Associated Press tally of FEC documents and financial totals provided by the groups that haven’t yet reported. John Kasich, who will announce on July 21, did not disclose any fundraising numbers, as their official campaigns weren’t established until after the June 30 deadline.
One trade-off is that they are not allowed to give money directly to campaigns, nor are they allowed to coordinate their efforts with political campaigns. Bush, the leading GOP establishment choice and the son and brother of previous presidents, raised the most money of any Republican and his did it the fastest. That looks like chump change, though, compared with the $100 million Right to Rise PAC, the super PAC Bush founded, will report at the end of the month.
Some candidates also have non-profit groups (known as 501(c)(4)s) on their sides — groups that, unlike superPACs and campaigns, do not have to disclose their donors at all, as Washington Post’s Matea Gold reports. He also appears on the way to winning the Goldman Sachs crown, as employees and executives of the Wall Street bank gave $144,900, the most from people working for any single entity. Candidates are fond of touting their totals of unitemized donations — FEC-speak for donations of less than $200 — as a measure of their grassroots support. Rubio’s overall take from donors — $44.7 million to his campaign and two outside groups — includes $15.8 million for a nonprofit that won’t file any public budget information until at least next year and keeps its donors secret. Thus far, the candidates that have taken in the largest share of their individual donation totals from these small donors are Bernie Sanders (76 percent), Ben Carson (68 percent) and Rand Paul (60 percent).
Like nearly every other Republican contender, Rubio’s totals are dwarfed by the $32 million collected by a super PAC and a nonprofit group backing his bid. Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign, FEC reports show, accounting for more than three-quarters of the $13.7 million in contributions he collected. And on the Democrat side, there are three of these candidates this time around (Lincoln Chafee doesn’t make this cutoff, as he’s largely self-funded right now).
Trump’s campaign reported $1.4 million in receipts — not massive, but enough to beat out a few other GOP candidates, including Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal. Chris Christie made their campaigns official too recently to file second-quarter FEC reports, although a Christie-allied super PAC said on Tuesday that it has raised $11 million. Rand Paul (Ky.) rounded out the top fundraisers of the Republican primary with $6.9 million, although $1.6 million came from a transfer from his Senate account.
Clinton traversed the country to hit up fundraisers hosting some of the biggest party donors, and raked in $31.1 million from contributors who gave the $2,700 primary campaign maximum or more for the general election. Candidates counting on nonprofit groups to support their campaigns, like Rubio, Jindal and Bush, won’t have to worry about this disclosure, as nonprofits don’t reveal their donors.
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