Democratic Super-PACs Bank $25 Million—But Lag Karl Rove and Co.

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The four big super-PACs devoted to defending President Obama and growing the Democratic ranks in Congress just announced an uptick in their fundraising haul for the 2012 elections. These groups raised more than $25 million in April, May, and June. That’s more than previous quarters, but not close to enough to keep pace with outside GOP groups plotting to spending a projected $1 billion this election cycle.

  • Leading the way on the Democratic side was Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super-PAC, which banked $11.7 million in 2012’s second quarter. Notable donors included real estate magnate Franklin Haney, who gave $1 million, and Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, who chipped in another million. In a recent email, Bill Burton, a former Obama White House aide who co-founded Priorities, told me his super-PAC had $20 million “in the bank” and $20 million more in future commitments.
  • Majority PAC, a super-PAC committed to supporting Senate Democrats and Senate candidates such as Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, pulled in $5.4 million in April, May, and June. That’s three times what Majority PAC raised in the first quarter of 2012. The group will need every penny of it to counter the tens of millions already spent on Senate races by Crossroads GPS, the secretive nonprofit co-founded by GOP political gurus Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.
  • House Majority PAC, a super-PAC focusing on electing more Democrats to the House of Representatives, took in $4.3 million in the second quarter.
  • American Bridge 21st Century super-PAC and its affiliated nonprofit banked $4.1 million. American Bridge is a standalone opposition research outfit that digs up dirt on candidates and spits out memos, videos, and other damning nuggets to reporters. In May, George Soros pledged $1 million to American Bridge, which was founded by David Brock, the ex-conservative journalist who started the media watchdog Media Matters for America.

Los Angeles media mogul Haim Saban also gave $1 million to a joint fundraising effort benefiting Priorities USA Action, Majority PAC, and House Majority PAC, federal records show.

The $25 million raised by Democratic outside groups pales in comparison to what conservatives and Republicans have reeled in. In April, Steven Law, who heads the American Crossroads super-PAC, announced that Crossroads and its nonprofit affiliate, Crossroads GPS, had together raised nearly $100 million for the 2012 cycle. The Koch brothers’ donor network is expected to pump $400 million into groups hammering Obama and Democrats.

The Democratic outside groups are well aware of what they’re up against. “Together we’re ensuring that Democrats will have the resources to level the playing field and fight back against the right’s attacks in order to keep the White House, maintain a majority in the Senate, and take back the House,” the Democratic groups said in a statement.

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