- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mitt Romney out-raised President Obama by $73 million to $66 million in June, disclosures showed Friday, as he doubled his small-donor base and capitalized on his newfound control over the Republican National Committee to hit up wealthy early supporters for the much larger contributions that vehicle can accept.

In March, only 13 percent of the money sent to Mr. Romney’s campaign, which can accept up to $5,000, came from small donors, a figure that stayed at less than 25 percent in April and May.

But in June, money from those giving $200 or less made up 41 percent of his total, compared to 42 percent for Mr. Obama. Contributions from people giving $200 or less quadrupled from $2.4 million in April to $10 million in June, compared to a rise from $11 million to $12 million for Mr. Obama.

Despite the new small donors, Mr. Romney’s campaign itself was out-raised by Mr. Obama’s; the presumptive Republican nominee’s financial advantage came from donations to the party committee, which derives most of its money from $30,800 donations and raised twice as much as its Democratic counterpart.

Seventy percent of those big-money donations came not from an expanded donor base but from existing Romney donors who had previously “maxed out” to the campaign and who, now that the campaign has joined forces with the RNC, were legally able to give again, a Washington Times analysis of records showed.

As the Romney campaign shifted into high gear, it spent double what it did in May, including $10 million on ads and $1.3 million on payroll. But it prepared for a long battle, spending less than it raised while Mr. Obama did the opposite, outspending his rival fourfold on advertising.

Mr. Obama has far more in the bank, at $98 million versus $23 million.

Despite Mr. Obama’s many small donors, at least $143 million — and likely much more — of the amount he has raised this election cycle can be traced to only 638 wealthy “bundlers” with astonishing reach.

The Obama Victory Committee, the vehicle for donations from wealthy supporters, has raised $221 million, meaning most were in some way spurred to give by one of the 638 people.

Since the last time bundlers were disclosed three months ago, 106 names have been added to the list.

Also, 179 of the Obama bundlers raised at least a half-million dollars — up from 116 in the last quarter and the first time that the largest share of bundlers fell into that top-raiser category.

New names include Alan Kessler, who served on the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service until he resigned last summer weeks after an investigation found he pressured postal officials in a real estate deal involving a friend.

Among June donations to Romney of $200 to $5,000, 54 percent of the money came from first-time donors, the lowest level yet. By number of donations, 42 percent came from first-time donors, up from a low of 33 percent in March, but lower than May’s figure of 46 percent.

Those figures mean two things: Mr. Romney still has early supporters who haven’t reached their contribution caps, and most of Mr. Romney’s new donors are not wealthy.

The Romney campaign’s ability to expand beyond a reliance on a small group of wealthy donors will be critical, especially as those donors hit the legal maximums.

While an analysis of daily totals of contributions of more than $200 — the only ones disclosed — shows Mr. Obama’s supporters giving continuously, Mr. Romney’s daily totals peak and wane abruptly in concert with fundraising events, showing his reliance on hard-sell appeals for funds at dinners.

In modern campaigns, however, major national events are also used as fundraising pegs. Hours after the Supreme Court upheld Mr. Obama’s signature health care legislation, both campaigns sought to capitalize on the moment financially.

“Obamacare is bad medicine, it is bad policy, and when I’m President, the bad news of Obamacare will be over. Donate $10 or more,” an email from Mr. Romney said. “My opponent said a short while ago that the first thing he would try to do as president is repeal the health care law,” Mr. Obama countered before asking for a donation.

When it came to medical professionals themselves, the sentiment seemed to be in Democrats’ favor. Doctors responded by giving $600,000 to Mr. Obama and $210,000 to Mr. Romney from the June 28 ruling to June 30, while nurses and other support staff gave $130,000 to Mr. Obama and $25,000 to Mr. Romney, The Times’ analysis showed. Those proportions mirrored the professions’ preferences throughout the month.

But in the end, among the general populace, Mr. Romney raised an almost identical amount June 29, $37 million, as Mr. Obama did June 30, $38 million.

Much of the money raised by Mr. Romney was funneled to companies controlled by longtime confidants: $12 million to the firm of Romney senior advisers including Stuart Stevens; $7.3 million on direct mail to SCM Associates, run by Stephen C. Meyers, another longtime Romney associate; and $832,000 to SJZ LLC, a company run by Spencer J. Zwick, the campaign’s chief fundraiser.

The total raised by Mr. Romney this election cycle is $12 million more than that of Sen. John McCain at this point in his 2008 run.

In addition to his marked expansion of a network of small donors, he had help from Washington insiders. Twenty-three federal lobbyists have now worked at raising money for Mr. Romney’s campaign. Mr. Obama, like previous presidential candidates, voluntarily disclosed his bundlers, but Mr. Romney has declined to do so, except for lobbyists, which rules require.

The Romney and Obama campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

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