- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Claims by a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC that it made $3.4 million in ad buys in South Carolina are not borne out in Federal Election Commission records, The Washington Times has found.

The amount struck political operatives and campaign advisers as an exceptionally large sum by South Carolina standards — more than enough to strike concern in the hearts of Gingrich rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.

South Carolina holds its GOP nomination primary Jan. 21, a date widely viewed as the last chance for rivals of front-runner Mitt Romney to derail the former Massachusetts governor’s march to the GOP presidential nomination.

On Sunday, longtime Gingrich aide and friend Rick Tyler was quoted as saying that Restore America, an independent political action committee supporting the former House speaker, had already made the ad purchases, presumably to try to bring down Mr. Romney, who made history by winning both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary this month.

Mr. Romney’s rivals, led by Mr. Gingrich, have tried to paint the former governor as a moderate, rather than as the reliable conservative that GOP primary and caucuses voters have sought.

On Wednesday, Mr. Tyler stood by his comments, saying the $3.4 million in ad buys is accurate, adding that he was not aware that the FEC requires candidates to report such purchases within 24 hours.

In a follow-up interview on Wednesday, Mr. Tyler told The Washington Times that the PAC had bought a little more than $1 million in advertising and would not disclose how it spent the remainder of the $3.4 million because it did not want to reveal “strategy” to the opposition.

Mr. Tyler also said he had been informed by other officials in the PAC that the ad buys would be reported in a “timely way.”

There were no disclosures of the ad buys posted on the FEC site Wednesday, though an FEC spokesman confirmed that the law requires that such buys be reported in full.

The Gingrich campaign, even after recovering from an awkward start, has struggled to find enough donations to wage a credible air war against the well-financed and meticulously structured Romney campaign organization.

Las Vegas gambling casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who owns a large-circulation newspaper in Israel and has reportedly contributed more than $100 million to Israel-related causes, has donated $5 million to Winning Our Future, another pro-Gingrich super PAC. Mr. Gingrich has been a staunch supporter of Israel.

But the FEC has no record of that $5 million Adelson gift and won’t until the required filing of such contributions on Feb. 20, an FEC official said.

Donations do not fall under the 24-hour reporting rule.

Campaigns have been known to overstate their ad buys in order to earn free news coverage of their efforts.

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