TIME Campaign Finance

Few New Mega-Donors Join 2016 Fundraising

Jeb Bush
John Raoux—AP In this July 27, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks in Longwood, Fla.

The 2016 presidential race may be a whole new ball game in terms of fundraising, but most of the players’ names are awfully familiar — even if their faces are a bit more lined.

Very few of the top donors to the super PACs backing one of the many GOP White House hopefuls or handful of Democratic candidates are new to giving substantial political gifts, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data by the Center for Responsive Politics, and many have been active for decades.

The relative absence of new faces in the very small pool of really big donors magnifies the impact of ultra-wealthy individuals who have been participating in the process for years — the Robert McNairs, Jeffrey Katzenbergs and Richard Uihleins of the fundraising world.

But they are anteing up more than ever before as their favored candidates’ campaigns become ever more intertwined with the super PACs, announcing combined fundraising totals and splitting up activities, like voter outreach, that once were firmly functions of the campaign committees — not the supposedly independent outside groups.

While there are no complete ingenues among the rosters of top donors to the super PACs, which filed their disclosure reports for the first half of the year this week, there are a few who previously haven’t given sums anything like those they are notching this year. They include the Texas-based Wilks family, four members of which gave $15 million to groups backing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); brothers Farris and Dan are religious conservatives who got rich in the fracking business. Another: Laura Perlmutter, who gave $2 million to a super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The pure numbers are staggering: In the 2012 election cycle, all the presidential super PACs together had raised about $26 million by June 30 of the year before the vote. This time, the total comes to more than $258 million at the same point in time.

That’s about double the more than $130 million the presidential campaigns raised in the first six months of this year, setting up a new paradigm for campaign finance at the federal level. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, with combined totals of $114 million and $71 million respectively, have settled themselves atop the all time list of presidential campaign-related fundraising in the first six months of the year before the election.

Several of the Republican efforts have been utterly dominated by outside groups raising unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and other organizations. Seven Republican candidates reported larger fundraising totals for their supposedly unconnected super PACs than they disclosed for their campaigns, with the pro-Bush Right to Rise group pulling in nearly 10 times as much as the campaign itself.

A caveat, though: Absent this super PAC fundraising, the candidates themselves are lagging far behind the pace set in 2007, the last campaign with no incumbent seeking re-election. Six of the seven largest fundraising totals at this point in all prior cycles came in 2007 when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and John Edwards all raised more than $23 million by June 30. Only four of this year’s competitors (Bush, Clinton, Cruz and Rubio) have reached that level for their campaigns and super PACs combined.

One important impact of super PAC activity in the 2012 presidential race could be looming again itself again in the earliest stages of the 2016 contest. These groups, which allow candidates to benefit from the seemingly limitless financial support of a small number of ardent and affluent supporters, can keep campaigns going long after they ordinarily would have died a natural death.

In 2012 the campaigns of former Rep. Newt Gingrich (Ga.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.) and other Republicans were prolonged by funding in the tens of millions from a handful of supporters. Friday’s filings show that contributions from five or fewer donors make up the majority of the super PAC funding for nine of the GOP candidates: Rubio, Rand Paul, Cruz, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee and Santorum. In many cases, the money given by five or fewer individuals or institutions is more than the total given by all individuals directly to the presidential campaign committees of these contenders.

Some donors have hedged their bets, giving large amounts to groups backing multiple candidates. Hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, for instance, was among the top three donors to super PACs backing both Jindal and Cruz, though he gave far more to the pro-Cruz effort. Houston Texans owner Robert McNair was more equitable, giving $500,000 each to super PACs backing no less than four Republican candidates: Security is Strength (Graham), Unintimidated (Walker), Keep the Promise (Cruz) and Right to Rise USA (Bush).

Only a few of the 17 declared Republican candidates, five Democrats, or the Green Party entry lacks at least one supporting super PAC, including Sen. Bernie Sanders(D-Vt.), former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. On the other hand, Paul has at least two major super PACs in his corner, andCruz has four, each of which seems to have been “purchased” by one or two mega-donors and has a name that is some version of “Keep the Promise.”

What’s a wealthy donor to do? The two primary outside groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign have addressed the potential for confusion by organizing a joint fundraising committee to distribute funds among themselves — one-stop shopping that keeps prospective contributors from having to choose and the groups from having to compete for checks. Priorities USA Action will get the bulk of the funds, with a smaller share going to Correct the Record, the group that fights attacks on the former secretary of state.

TIME Campaign Finance

Super PACs’ Haul So Far Tops $266 Million

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks to workers at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

That's 17 times as much as they did in 2012

Presidential super PACs operating expansive shadow campaigns — buying ads, hosting town hall meetings and hiring canvassers — have raised more than twice as much money as the candidates themselves, newly filed campaign finance documents show.

About three dozen such super PACs collectively raised more than $266 million from January through June while the campaigns of 2016 presidential hopefuls collectively raised just half that much — about $130 million — according to a Center for Public Integrity review.

The total raised by super PACs is about 17 times more than comparable groups raised during the same period four years ago, when the term “super PAC” had yet to make it into the dictionary.

Super PACs, made possible thanks to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals. They may use the funds to support or oppose candidates, but are prohibited from coordinating their spending with campaigns.

Leading in the money chase: Right to Rise USA, a group that supports former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, which raised more than $103 million.

Bush helped raise millions for the group, despite the anti-coordination rules. Bush attended numerous fundraising events for the super PAC, but got around the prohibition by making appearances prior to announcing his 2016 candidacy.

Two dozen donors each gave Right to Rise USA at least $1 million during the year’s first half, with about 90 percent of it coming before Bush officially launched his campaign in June. One of those million-dollar donors was NextEra Energy, a Florida-based Fortune 200 energy company.

A pair of famous Texas retirees also made handsome donations to Right to Rise USA: former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, who gave $125,000 and $95,000, respectively.

Millionaires club

While the pro-Bush super PAC dominated all others, a cluster of five super PACs supporting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised about $38 million.

Two groups backing Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin raised more than $26 million.

And a super PAC backing Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised about $16 million.

In each case, the super PACs raised more than the candidates themselves — sometimes many times over. Bush’s official campaign, for instance, has collected just $11 million to date.

Never before have super PACs played such a prominent role in a presidential contest — especially so early in the process. Now, nearly every major candidate has a super PAC doppelganger.

Among the Republican contenders, only celebrity business tycoon Donald Trump, who so far has self-funded the bulk of his campaign, doesn’t yet have an allied super PAC capable of raising significant cash.

This represents a dramatic shift from four years ago.

At this stage of the 2012 presidential election, only President Barack Obama and eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney enjoyed the support of aligned super PACs. Super PACs supporting many 2012 GOP hopefuls did not form until the fall or winter of 2011.

“The first thing I’m going to do as a presidential candidate is see if there’s a super PAC out there to support me, or someone willing to form a super PAC to help me,” said John Grimaldi, a political operative who worked for a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC in 2012 but is not working for a campaign or super PAC this election cycle.

“A super PAC eliminates a major portion of your campaign expenditures as a candidate,” Grimaldi continued. “It makes it easier to run.”

Why? The answer, in part, is that deep-pocketed donors who are prohibited from donating large sums of money directly to the candidates themselves may give unlimited amounts to super PACs — as may corporations and labor unions.

No limits, no problem

Candidates may only accept donations of $2,700 per person, per election, and $5,000 per election from corporate or labor political action committees.

“We are not subject to contribution limits like the campaigns are, so that certainly helps build resources to get our message out,” said Jordan Russell, spokesman for the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, which is backing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s White House run.

The Opportunity and Freedom PAC has already spent more than $2.3 million on advertisements touting Perry — more than twice as much as the Republican’s presidential campaign raised through the end of June.

This dynamic frustrates many of the presidential contenders, and some, including Cruz, are openly calling for contribution limits to candidates to be eliminated entirely.

“Our current campaign finance system is ridiculous,” Cruz told the Center for Public Integrity in a recent interview. “The way to do it is to let campaigns speak for themselves directly.”

Even grassroots favorites, such as Republican Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, have allied super PACs.

One super PAC working on Carson’s behalf raised $13.5 million last year and another $2.9 million during the first half of 2015, while Carson’s campaign, which was launched in May, has raised $10.6 million.

“I personally have not gone around chasing after billionaires and special interest groups,” Carson told the Center for Public Integrity. “We’re getting an enormous response from the grassroots. That’s the people that I want to be beholden to.”

Wealthy donors have certainly helped fuel the super PAC spree — and many of them are hedging their bets and supporting multiple White House contenders in a field that’s grown to 17 Republicans and five Democrats.

Hedging their bets

Rich donors flirting with multiple Republican candidates spread, in some cases, millions of dollars among super PACs backing different candidates. This continues a trend that first emerged after presidential candidates themselves released campaign disclosures earlier this month.

Take hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who laid down $11 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC called Keep the Promise I, making him practically the sole funder.

That’s a pretty big investment.

But surprisingly, Keep the Promise I steered $500,000 to a super PAC backing Cruz rival Carly Fiorina — presumably at Mercer’s direction, and possibly a sign that were Cruz to falter or withdraw, Mercer could direct the super PAC elsewhere.

On top of that, Mercer wrote a $250,000 check to Believe Again, a super PAC supporting Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Republican presidential bid.

Then there’s former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio, who was the biggest donor to the super PAC backing Fiorina, who gave nearly $1.6 million. He also gave $100,000 to the pro-Bush Right to Rise USA super PAC.

Meanwhile, Robert McNair, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, donated $500,000 apiece to super PACs backing Republicans Bush, Cruz, Walker and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

An investment firm tied to Manoj Bhargava, the politically active founder of beverage company 5-hour Energy, similarly placed multiple six-figure bets on super PACs supporting three GOP presidential candidates, all governors.

The company, called ETC Capital LLC, gave $150,000 to America Leads, a super PAC backing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, $150,000 to the Unintimidated PAC, which supports Walker, and $100,000 to the pro-Jindal Believe Again super PAC.

Bhargava’s investment firm was among the top five donors last year to the Republican Governors Association, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the firm would back three current Republican governors seeking the White House, two of whom — Christie and Jindal — are past RGA chairs.

Even Marlene Ricketts, the matriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the mother of Walker’s campaign finance chairman, Todd Ricketts, spread her money around.

She donated $10,000 each to groups backing Bush, Christie, Cruz, Graham, Perry and Rubio.

But her largest donation — $4.9 million — went to Walker’s Unintimidated PAC, representing a quarter of the super PAC’s take.

Working closer with candidates

Bradley Crate, chief financial officer for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said that four years ago, super PAC leaders proceeded with a measure of caution, afraid of violating laws that restricted how they interfaced with political candidates.

Today, such fears have largely dissipated, with the ideologically gridlocked Federal Election Commission often unable to agree on how to interpret and regulate the most basic of election law matters.

This gives super PACs the opportunity to work more intimately with candidates. Some are even absorbing many of the responsibilities traditionally reserved for a candidate’s own campaign, said Crate, now president of Red Curve Solutions, a Massachusetts-based campaign finance consulting firm.

“That’s what I would do,” he said.

Alex Cohen and Chris Zubak-Skees contributed to this report.

This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. To read more of their reporters’ work, go here or follow them on Twitter.

TIME Crime

Rick Perry Wants to Allow Guns in Movie Theaters

Perry's comments come mere days after the Lafayette theater shootings, which injured 11 and killed two plus the gunman

Rick Perry believes Thursday night’s movie theater shooting in Lafayette, La., shows why gun-free zones are “a bad idea,” in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union and said it “makes a lot of sense” to allow guns in movie theaters.

“I think that you allow the citizens of this country, who have been appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded, know how to use firearms, to carry them,” Perry told host Jake Tapper. “If we believe in the second amendment and if we believe in people’s rights to protect themselves and their families—to tell them they cannot carry a weapon that they are legally obliged to carry, that they have been through the training for, makes no sense to me.”

John Russell “Rusty” Houser entered a showing of Trainwreck on Thursday night and opened fire with a handgun that he had legally obtained from a pawn shop. Houser shot 11 people, killing two, before fatally shooting himself.

Perry, a former Texas governor and now a Republican presidential contender, said gun laws were in place, but enforcement was the issue, saying that current laws should have prevented Houser, who had a history of mental illness and a criminal record, from obtaining a gun.

But Perry remained steadfast in his belief that had theatergoers had been allowed to carry guns into the movie theater, the tragedy might have been lessened or even prevented. “I believe, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette,” he said.

 

TIME rick perry

Appeals Court Drops One of Rick Perry’s Indictments

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a meet and greet in Fort Dodge, Iowa on July 13, 2015.
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a meet and greet in Fort Dodge, Iowa on July 13, 2015.

Perry was indicted last August on the coercion charge and a separate charge of abuse of official power

(AUSTIN, Texas) — One of two felony indictments against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was tossed out Friday, giving the Republican presidential candidate a potentially huge legal victory in the face of flagging polling numbers for the 2016 race.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin sided Friday with Perry’s high-powered legal team in ruling that the charge of coercion of a public servant essentially constituted a violation of Perry’s free speech rights.

Perry was indicted last August on the coercion charge and a separate charge of abuse of official power, which wasn’t affected by the ruling. It’s still likely he’ll have to face that charge.

The case stems from Perry publicly threatening, and then exercising, a veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors. His move came in the wake of the Democrat who heads the investigative unit rebuffing Perry’s calls to resign after she was convicted and jailed for drunken driving.

Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor leading the case, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. He will likely have the option of further appealing Friday’s decision.

Lead Perry counsel Tony Buzbee called the decision “a clear step towards victory for the rule of law.”

“The only remaining count we believe to be a misdemeanor, and the only issue is whether the governor’s veto — or any veto in the absence of bribery — can ever be illegal,” Buzbee said. “The appeals court made clear that this case was questionable … and we are confident that once it is put before the court, it will be dismissed on its face.”

Perry left office in January and has spent most of his time campaigning in the early-voting states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but polls show him badly trailing the race’s front-runners. He made a single court appearance in the matter, which so far hasn’t affected his 2016 campaign schedule.

The former governor has for months called the case against him politically motivated, but the Republican trial judge repeatedly refused to toss it on constitutional grounds, which prompted the appeal. McCrum has said Perry deserves to go to trial based on the evidence — not politics.

Still, the court wrote, the coercion charge “violates the First Amendment and, accordingly, cannot be enforced.”

TIME Donald Trump

Rick Perry Calls Donald Trump a Cancer and Carnival Act

The schoolyard taunts continue in the GOP primary battle

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking the gloves off in his assault on Donald Trump, calling the man leading the GOP presidential polls “a cancer on conservatism” and “a barking carnival act.”

Perry, who sees a pathway to political resurrection after a disastrous 2012 campaign in his vocal criticism of the real estate magnate, used the striking language to criticize Trump at a forum organized by his super PAC, the Opportunity and Freedom PAC.

“The White House has been occupied by giants,” Perry said. “But from time to time it is sought by the small-minded – divisive figures propelled by anger, and appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition.”

“He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said. “Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

Perry and Trump have been locked in a public feud marked by schoolyard taunts for weeks after the former Texas governor criticized Trump for suggesting that many people who have immigrated to the U.S. illegally from Mexico are “rapists.” Trump fired back by calling Perry weak on border security, while mocking his choice in glasses and questioning his intelligence.

Lagging in the polls and on the cusp of not qualifying for next month’s GOP debate, Perry encouraged his party to “beware of false prophets” like Trump. “Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment,” he said. “Resentment is the poison we swallow that we hope harms another. My fellow Republicans, don’t take the poison.”

Perry said Trump is the modern-day successor to the 1840’s “Know-Nothings” who blamed immigrants for the country’s ills.

“He espouses nativism, not conservatism,” Perry said. “He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic. He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds.”

Perry also laid into Trump for suggesting that Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured and imprisoned in Vietnam.

“Donald Trump was born into privilege,” Perry said. “He received deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. He breathes the free air thousands of heroes died protecting. And he couldn’t have endured for five minutes what John McCain endured for five and a half years.”

He also criticized Trump’s response to a question at a candidate forum on Saturday in which he said he could not recall ever asking God for forgiveness.

“A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House,” Perry added.

TIME 2016 Election

New Hampshire Sisters Snag Selfies With Presidential Hopefuls

Donald Trump poses for a photo with Emma Nozell (L) and her sister Addy Nozell in Laconia, N.H. on July 17, 2015.
Emma Nozell—AP Donald Trump poses for a photo with Emma Nozell (L) and her sister Addy Nozell in Laconia, N.H. on July 17, 2015.

From Chris Christie to Ben Carson to Donald Trump, they've got 'em all

(CONCORD, N.H.) — Addy and Emma Nozell aren’t the first New Hampshire residents to collect photos of themselves with as many presidential candidates as possible. But in the age of selfies, the Merrimack sisters are attracting a lot of attention, so much so that candidates now arrive in the state ready for their close-ups with the teens.

Here are five things to know about New Hampshire’s presidential selfie sisters:

THE FIRST:

It all started on July 2, when 15-year-old Emma decided she wanted to snap a photo of herself with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. They caught up with him Nashua, where Christie stopped at an ice cream stand.

“I took a selfie with him, and then Addy decided, ‘Why not get ’em with everyone?'” Emma said.

While that encounter marked their first foray into presidential selfies, the girls are no strangers to the campaign trail. Their parents have made a point of taking them to political events since they were babies.

“Since our parents bring us to all these events, we thought it was pretty do-able,” said Addy. “We were always in the parades. We were always making signs. We were always helping them with whatever was needed.”

___

THE WORST:

The sisters are least happy with their picture with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, because he’s not looking at the camera. (They’ve offered him a do-over.)

In terms of overall experience, the most difficult was Dr. Ben Carson, who wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post website criticizing the “obvious narcissism of endlessly photographing oneself and blasting it over social networks for others to admire.”

Emma was determined, albeit nervous.

“I went up to him and said, ‘I know you don’t like selfies, I understand that, but I’m doing this project with all the other candidates,'” Emma said. “‘I was wondering if you could take a selfie with me.'”

He said yes.

___

THE METHOD:

The sisters have some advice for fellow selfie seekers: Find a hole in the crowd, make eye contact and smile. Asking permission is a must, but selfie sticks are a no-no, she said, because they are too unwieldy in large crowds.

“Don’t be afraid to get up in there,” said Emma, who generally is the one snapping the photos.

On Thursday, the girls approached Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at a crowded diner in Amherst. He demurred at first, saying he’d pose with them after his speech. But Emma knew there wouldn’t be enough time afterward.

“I was like, ‘No, we gotta take it now,'” she said.

The girls’ mother, Wendy Thomas, said she was amazed watching her daughter charge up to the candidate.

“She got it. This little pit-bull selfie girl,” she said.

___

THE DONALD:

By the time the girls caught up with Donald Trump at the Weirs Beach Community Center on Thursday, however, something had shifted. Instead of having to push through a crowd, they faced a clear walkway and a candidate who appeared to be waiting for them.

“His handlers said, ‘These are the girls,’ and he said, ‘Oh, alright, let’s get the selfie,'” Addy said. “We were flabbergasted. Wow. He knew!”

___

THE FUTURE:

Neither girl will be old enough to vote in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, though Addy will turn 18 before the general election. She said she leans toward Democrats, but is open to Republicans as well, and has liked some of what she has heard on the campaign trail.

“I probably won’t decide until the very last minute,” she said.

Both sisters said they have learned a lot, not just about the candidates but about the media.

“It started off just for fun, but now it has become very educational,” Emma said.

TIME 2016 Election

Perry Still Opposes Gay Scout Leaders, While Walker Backtracks

Rick Perry
Nati Harnik—AP Republican presidential candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa on July 18, 2015.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said Sunday that he still opposes openly gay leaders in the Boy Scouts of America, even as the organization has moved to change a policy that banned such leaders.

“I believe that Scouting would be better off if they didn’t have openly gay Scoutmasters,” the GOP presidential candidate said on Meet the Press Sunday.

The Boy Scouts changed a policy banning gay scouts in 2013. After taking the helm of the organization last year, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for the organization to drop the ban on gay leaders as well. Earlier this month, the Boy Scouts executive committee voted to do just that.

Perry, who wrote a book about the Boy Scouts last year, isn’t the only GOP presidential candidate to support the ban. In a statement earlier in the week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the BSA should keep the ban on openly gay leaders, but in an interview with CNN he backtracked.

“I thought the policy was just fine. I’m saying when I was in Scouts, it was fine. You’re asking what should the policy be going forward. It should be left up to the leaders of the Scouts,” he said.

Both Walker and Perry are Eagle Scouts and cite their achievement in campaign materials.

Read Next: Rick Perry Cites His Eagle Scout Rank on Campaign Trail

TIME Campaign Finance

Major Donors Hedge Their Bets in 2016 Race

Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media July 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong— 2015 Getty Images Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media July 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

One donor gave to Hillary Clinton as well as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham

It’s speed dating season for presidential campaign contributors.

More than 1,000 donors — including some of the nation’s most prominent political benefactors — are hedging their bets by spreading contributions among multiple White House hopefuls, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of new campaign finance disclosures and interviews with top fundraisers.

Most double-donors have divided their loyalties among the 2016 presidential race’s legion of Republicans — a field 15 candidates strong and still growing.

Meanwhile, a few liberal contributors are backing both Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and one of her four primary challengers. A handful are even donating to Democrats and Republicans, the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of contributions for the three months ending June 30 indicates.

Equally notable as most presidential candidates on Wednesday filed their first campaign cash disclosures: About half of the nation’s top 100 political donors during the past six years — as identified by the Center for Responsive Politics — haven’t yet donated to any of them, suggesting they haven’t settled on a favorite as yet.

Super contributors still keeping their checkbooks closed when presidential candidates come calling include the likes of conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, as well as hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, TD Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts and coal executive Joe Craft.

These megadonors are not only capable of helping presidential candidates’ own committees with modest contributions, but can also pour millions of dollars into super PACs and outside groups supporting their chosen candidates.

Such giving — legal thanks largely to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision five years ago in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission — can almost single-handedly shift the contours of a presidential race.

So far, the amounts volunteered by outside groups, like super PACs and nonprofits — at least on the Republican side — have dwarfed amounts raised by candidate committees.

Donations to outside groups are unlimited while a contribution to a candidate is capped at $2,700 per election, creating an even greater incentive for campaigns to lock in wealthy activists’ support.

“People are still on the sidelines,” confirmed Gaylord Hughey, a longtime Republican donor and fundraiser in east Texas who is currently raising money for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The nation’s top 100 political donors reflect that: Twenty-four of them have invested early money in any GOP presidential candidates, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis.

Of them, 10 have financially supported more than one.

Robert McNair, the owner of the Houston Texans, has even donated to three: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Meanwhile, about two dozen of the 100 have already donated to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

They include Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, philanthropist Alida Rockefeller Messinger, Texas trial lawyer Amber Mostyn and entertainment mogul Haim Saban.

One — David desJardins, a software engineer who was an early Google employee — has donated to Democrat Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor running against Clinton.

So many choices

Donors spreading wealth to multiple candidates offer varying reasons for their approach to Election 2016.

Take New York City venture capitalist Ken Abramowitz, a staunch Mitt Romney supporter in 2012 who’s already contributed to six Republican candidates this election cycle — Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“I’m right now in the learning phase and I’m trying to learn about the candidates, learn about their thinking, their capabilities of being president,” he said.

Abramowitz said his contributions were all made so he could attend events with the candidates, as he tries to gauge where they fall on issues he cares about: growing the economy, and protecting both the country and “the culture of America.” He mentally grades them on those issues.

“Eventually, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ll just guess, we’ll all find one or two candidates that we, so to speak, fall in love with,” Abramowitz said. “A very small minority of people will fall in love at this early stage.”

Diet company founder Jenny Craig of California has fattened the campaign accounts of Bush, Rubio and Cruz.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, donated to Graham as well as a fundraising committee benefiting Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign, which Rubio converted into a presidential campaign.

Dallas investment banker-turned-alcohol distributor Sheldon Stein showered Bush, Cruz, Perry and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with thousands of dollars.

And former World Wrestling Entertainment executive and also-ran U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon of Connecticut split donations between Bush and Fiorina. “She has not formally endorsed any one candidate at this time,” said Kate Duffy, a McMahon spokeswoman.

Mica Mosbacher, a Texas fundraiser for Cruz, said in an e-mail that she knows contributors who have donated to multiple candidates and also has talked to some “fence sitters,” though she said Cruz often wins over donors when he talks to them in person.

“Others have said to me that they committed to someone else but Ted is their number two choice so his message is resonating,” she wrote. “And it’s still early.”

More than 50 donors crossed party lines when contributing to multiple presidential candidates.

One, billionaire grocery mogul and would-be New York Daily News owner John Catsimatidis — a self-described moderate — donated to Clinton on the left and Bush, Cruz and Graham on the right.

Nily Falic, a pro-Israel businesswoman from Florida whose family made its millions running duty-free stores, also straddled party lines, donating to Clinton, Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The Falics also helped bankroll the recent re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kevin O’Connor, who oversees governmental and political affairs for the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the union has so far contributed to Bush, Clinton, O’Malley and former Virginia U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat. The union also plans to send a check to another Democrat in Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, he said.

“We’re just kind of, if you will, helping our friends out,” he said, citing the union’s positive relationships with all those candidates during their previous stints in office. “There are a number of people in the race that have earned our respect and, to some extent, our support financially, and that’s reflected in what we’re doing in these donations.”

The union will go through its endorsement process and make a decision on its formal endorsement sometime between August and October, he said.

Strictly on the Democratic side, Hollywood honcho David Geffen wrote checks to Clinton and Sanders.

Generating big money early

There are 480 days until Election Day 2016 rolls around, but it doesn’t feel that way on the presidential fundraising circuit.

Before campaign fundraising books closed on June 30, the candidates sent out dozens of desperate fundraising emails with subject lines like “Friend, this is it” and “Last Chance!”

Their goal: to post the highest possible fundraising number for the quarter, the first time most of them were required to file a campaign disclosure report.

The reports, which were due by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, show some clear winners and losers.

Clinton posted by far the biggest haul of hard money — $47.5 million. She also spent the largest amount, $18.7 million, though she still had the most cash on hand, with $28.9 million.

Celebrities dotted her disclosure, from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (employer: self-employed; occupation: entrepreneur) to actors Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio, who all gave the maximum $2,700 allowed toward the primary.

Sanders, a self-described social Democrat, came in second in the cash race with about $15.2 million. Strikingly, more than three-quarters of Sanders’ contributions this quarter came from small-dollar donors who gave $200 or less, compared to about 17 percent of Clinton’s.

Bush came third, with $11.4 million, though the super PAC supporting him has reportedly raised more than $100 million to support his candidacy. Prominent donors to his campaign include hedge fund titan Daniel Loeb and oil and gas billionaire Trevor Rees-Jones. Bush also received at least 56 contributions totaling nearly $150,000 from people who listed investment banking giant Goldman Sachs as their employer.

He was followed by Cruz, with $10 million.

But the campaign committee hauls of Bush and Cruz — and those of several other Republican candidates — were dwarfed by fundraising totals for nominally independent political committees supporting them.

At least five Republican candidates — Fiorina, Bush, Rubio, Perry and Cruz — are backed by super PACs and nonprofits that have reportedly raised millions more than the campaigns themselves.

The outside groups are already picking up the tab for ads and organizing costs in early states. Super PACs aren’t required to reveal their finances until July 31, while nonprofit organizations that support candidates are generally allowed to keep their donors secret.

Candidates technically are not permitted to coordinate with outside groups such as super PACs, although many are pushing the boundaries.

For instance, before officially announcing his candidacy last month, Bush fundraised for Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting him, and it will engage in core functions such as campaign advertising.

Clinton is working directly with Correct the Record, a super PAC that provides it with opposition research but does not advertise. A super PAC supporting Fiorina has publicized her endorsements and answered questions from the press.

“There will be a lot more money spent by super PACs than by the campaigns” this time, said Charlie Black, a longtime Republican lobbyist and fundraiser who is currently neutral in the primary.

“Hard money” raised directly by campaigns does have its advantages despite federal laws limiting how much of it candidates may raise.

The candidates pay lower rates for television ad time, for instance, and have more control over how money is spent.

“If I were running a campaign, I would hate that I can’t control my own campaign, my own message,” Black said.

From April 1 to June 30, presidential candidates collectively reported raising more than $120 million through their campaigns, even though several of them didn’t formally announce until a few weeks ago.

Still, that’s only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars the super PACs and nonprofits supporting them have so far voluntarily disclosed raising — and some of those groups have not yet said how much money they’ve taken in.

Donors writing multimillion-dollar checks to those outside groups, though, may be dancing with more than one date.

Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer is one example.

He’s reportedly a main donor to a connected group of super PACs supporting Cruz. The groups have said they have raised more than $37 million, though it isn’t yet known how much is from Mercer.

That’s a pretty substantial investment in Cruz. Campaign finance filings yesterday, though, show he and his family also contributed to Fiorina.

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Presidential Contenders Slam Planned Parenthood Over Video

Germany Jeb Bush
Michael Sohn—AP Former US Governor Jeb Bush arrives for the Economic Council in Berlin on June 9, 2015.

The video was taken by undercover activists

Several Republican presidential candidates blasted Planned Parenthood in the wake of a widely shared video in which officials from the organization discuss how medical practitioners can preserve fetal organs for medical research during abortions.

Activists at the Center for Medical Progress secretly recorded the video, which the group says shows Planned Parenthood officials talking about the sale of fetal body parts.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood officials said that neither the patients nor the organization profits from the donation of fetal tissue. “In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field,” the statement reads.

Former Gov. of Florida Jeb Bush, who once called himself “probably the most pro-life governor in modern times,” tweeted that the video is “a shocking and horrific reminder that we must do so much more to foster a culture of life in America,” while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the video “absolutely horrifying and disgusting.”

In a statement, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called for an “immediate investigation” into Planned Parenthood in response to the video, which was taken by an undercover activist. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky circulated a petition to defund Planned Parenthood that included a call for donations to “set the stage for a pro-life President.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal directed his state health department to investigate local chapters of the organization in response to the video. And former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called it a “disturbing reminder of the organization’s penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life.”

 

TIME 2016 Election

GOP Congresswomen Have Some Advice for Their Party’s 2016 Candidates

Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., right, and Mimi Walters, R-Calif., are pictured during the election for Speaker before the 114th Congress was sworn in on the House floor, January 6, 2015.
Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc. Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., right, and Mimi Walters, R-Calif., are pictured during the election for Speaker before the 114th Congress was sworn in on the House floor, January 6, 2015.

House Republican women have some advice for the largely male field of 2016 would be GOP presidential nominees hoping to take on Hillary Clinton: listen to us before you speak.

“Women are the majority!” exclaimed Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, referring to the fact that America is 52% female. “We really have to watch our language when we’re talking about some of these issues. … The language just turns women off because we come off as the party of just cold, lack of compassion.”

McSally cited an exit poll in the 2012 presidential election that showed that 81.2% of voters felt President Obama “cared about people like me,” compared to just 17.6% of voters for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Romney lost the election in large part because he lost women by 12 percentage points to President Obama. And though Republicans in 2014 won back the Senate and made gains in the House, they only incrementally added women: a net of two in the House and one in the Senate. And they net lost one female governor.

Pundits often talk about GOP demographic challenges with minorities and young voters, but since the so-called War on Women petered out after 2012— after Republicans figured out how to stop saying egregiously insulting things about rape, little has been said about the GOP’s biggest demographic challenge: women. “We have a problem,” said Mimi Walters, a California Republican and the freshman representative on the House leadership team, “and we’re working to address it.”

The conservative National Review magazine and Google gathered five Republican Congresswomen—McSally, Walters, Missouri’s Ann Wagner, McSally, Walters, Virginia’s Barbara Comstock and New York’s Elise Stefanik—on Tuesday to talk about the challenges their party faces with women. All agreed that the GOP candidates needed to be consulting them, especially when the eventual nominee will likely be running against a woman: Hillary Clinton. “I will tell you: we will fail, and these men will fail, if they try and package [Clinton] as someone who’s stupid and doesn’t know her job, hasn’t done her job, and isn’t real, isn’t strong,” said Wagner, who is the sophomore class’ leadership representative. “They need us at the table to remind them of the words to use, the words not to use.”

All of the women said they had heard from one or more of the campaigns and were consulting with them and/or the Republican National Committee. They also spoke of their own efforts to find and elect more women to Congress, though they acknowledged that that effort was hamstrung by the limited number of competitive races given how gerrymandered congressional districts have become.

On the presidential level, Comstock said it was important that the campaigns hire senior women to run them, which could be a challenge because women don’t like to take risky jobs that may not lead to permanent employment should their candidate lose, Comstock said. So, she said, the campaigns had to be proactive and seek women out.

“One of the things I’ve asked them is: where am I at the table? Who do you have on staff?” Comstock said. “The reality is if there are women at the top they recruit other women and bring them in and that is also something I have been demanding of the candidates.”

So far the candidates don’t seem to be listening too closely. Only one major candidate has a female campaign manager: Mike Huckabee’s daughter Sarah is running her dad’s bid. A quick search reveals that of the top 16 GOP candidates, only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have set up “Women for…” pages on Facebook.

That said, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina—one of the 13 without a dedicated page for women—has spent a lot of time courting the women’s vote. “I hope she makes the top 10, I think she’s been very effective in going after Hillary Clinton,” said Wagner, referring to the debate cutoff of the top 10 candidates in polling. “I think she’s done it in a way that’s responds with women.”

In the latest round of surveys, Fiorina broke into the top 10 for the first time, with 3% of the vote.

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