Aug. 20, 2016 4:14pm Dave Urbanski
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic megadonors, including George Soros and Tom Steyer, are putting millions of dollars into efforts to put Hillary Clinton in the White House and win control of the Senate. Their investment comes as Republicans worry about not only their nominee Donald Trump’s chances, but also his effect on down-ballot races.
George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, talks during a television interview for CNN, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Yet few of the GOP’s biggest donors have put major money into Trump efforts, a striking change from four years ago when Mitt Romney had more million-dollar donors on his side than did President Barack Obama.
The presidential candidates and many outside groups must report their July fundraising and spending details to the Federal Election Commission by midnight Saturday. Here’s what we know so far:
Billionaire after billionaire appeared on the latest fundraising reports from Democratic super PACs.
Super political action committees face no restrictions on how much money they can take from individual, corporate and union donors. Liberals have decried these groups as bad for democracy — yet they’ve leaned on them to help win races, saying they don’t want to disarm against Republicans.
In July alone, New York hedge fund billionaire George Soros gave $1.5 million to Planned Parenthood’s super PAC and $35,000 to Priorities USA, both working to elect Clinton, as well as $500,000 to the Senate Majority PAC. Other million-dollar donors to Priorities USA include the creator of diet product Slim-Fast, Daniel Abraham, and Donald Sussman, a financier who is divorcing Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree.
Soros’s latest contributions bring his 2015-2016 super PAC total to more than $14 million — a fivefold increase from his super PAC investments during the previous presidential election.
Across the country, California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer is feeling similarly generous.
Last month, he pumped another $7 million into his super PAC, called NextGen Climate Action Committee. In the past two years, he has put into $38 million into the group, which works to defeat politicians who don’t believe in human-caused climate change.
NextGen also is spending heavily to help Clinton, including by giving millions of dollars to labor union super PACs that back her.
Another billionaire with his own super PAC, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gave $5 million in July. The group, called Independence USA, backs candidates who want stricter gun control measures.
Although that often means boosting the fortunes of Democrats, the super PAC recently began spending to help Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey retain his seat in a tough contest. Bloomberg praised Toomey’s support of expanding background checks as his chief reason for helping him.
Bloomberg has also endorsed Clinton.
DAD BOOSTS SENATE BID
The Senate Majority PAC, a group with ties to Minority Leader Harry Reid, netted $7.3 million in July — its best fundraising yet this year. One of its top donors was Thomas Murphy, a Florida construction executive whose son Patrick Murphy is likely to face off with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The younger Murphy is a Democratic representative who had worked with his family’s company before being elected to office.
Other $1 million donors to Senate Majority PAC were the Greater New York Hospital Association Management Corporation, a network of heath care facilities in the northeast, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
On the Republican side, the Freedom Partners Action Fund is typically among the biggest groups spending in Senate races. In July, it counted a single donor, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. He gave $1 million.
Freedom Partners is one of many political and policy groups steered by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who are uncomfortable with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and have decided to concentrate on down-ballot races. Likewise, Singer is not a Trump backer.
The National Rifle Association, which endorsed Trump over the summer, through its political committee has aired about $5 million in TV ads knocking Clinton. That helped keep pro-Trump messages on the airwaves even as he sat out. (The Trump campaign began advertising this week.)
The NRA Political Victory Fund’s July fundraising shows that the majority of its $1 million raised came from donors giving $200 or less. The committee had $12.3 million in the bank as this month began.
A pro-Trump group called Great America PAC landed its biggest contribution yet in July, $100,000 from billionaire Charles Johnson, a backer of vanquished GOP Trump rival Jeb Bush and owner of the San Francisco Giants. Great America PAC has spent about $2 million on Trump-themed ads, most of which are aimed at getting viewers to call in to pledge money to the group.
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PREVIEW BIG NUMBERS
Ahead of their filings, Trump and Clinton announced their July fundraising totals.
Trump, who did not raise much money during the primary and had no finance team until late May, has proven a surprisingly strong fundraiser. In July, he raised more than $80 million for his campaign and allied Republican Party groups, his campaign said. That’s just shy of the $90 million Clinton’s aides said they collected in July for her campaign and fellow Democratic committees.
Clinton’s campaign said it began this month with more than $58 million in the bank. Trump’s campaign said that as of Aug 1 it had $37 million in cash and another $37 million in joint accounts with the Republican National Committee.
Campaign finance documents will give details about how both candidates spent their money in July.