- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2015

Political committees affiliated with potential GOP presidential contenders were filing end-of-year fundraising reports ahead of a Jan. 31 deadline, as presidential hopefuls start making serious moves and laying groundwork for their possible runs heading into the 2016 cycle.

The committees serve in part as one way for candidates eyeing White House bids to build up contacts and chits in early presidential states; many of them doled out money ahead of the 2014 elections to candidates and committees in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, along with GOP Senate candidates in key races across the country.

The Jobs, Growth, and Freedom Fund, the leadership PAC for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, brought in about $1.7 million and spent about $1.6 million, finishing up with about $130,000 on hand. The group made some donations just before election day to candidates in states that included New Hampshire, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, and Illinois, and also made six-figure independent expenditure ad buys in the final stretch of the campaign on behalf of GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and former Sen. Scott Brown, who was running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, along with smaller buys on behalf of Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and David Perdue of Georgia.

RANDPAC, the leadership committee for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, raised about $2.1 million and spent $2.5 million, finishing with about $160,000 on hand. In the run-up to the election, that committee made donations to a handful of candidates in New Hampshire and made independent expenditures on behalf of Ms. Ernst, Mr. Brown, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Reclaim America, the leadership PAC for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, brought in about $1.65 million and spent about $1.9 million, finishing with about $31,000 on hand.

Mr. Rubio spent significant time traveling on behalf of candidates for the U.S. Senate, and his PAC kicked in for candidates like Ms. Ernst and Mr. Brown.

HUCK PAC, affiliated with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who recently left his gig at Fox News to explore another possible presidential run, raised about $1.9 million, spent $1.7 million, and finished with a little more than $450,000 on hand. Many of his disbursements ahead of the midterms were donations for candidates in Arkansas.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum’s Patriot Voices brought in about $1.6 million and spent about $1.2 million, finishing with about $437,000 on hand. The group doled out money in the final stretch of the campaign to a host of candidates in states that included Iowa, Washington, Virginia, Colorado, Alabama, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, South Dakota, and New York.

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurologist who is weighing a bid, set up USA First PAC in late August, which raised about $431,000, spent about $230,000, and had about $200,000 on hand at the end of the year. That committee doled out October money to GOP candidates in key U.S. Senate races, such as Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Cory Gardner of Colorado, as well as Mr. Tillis, Mr. Cotton and Ms. Ernst.

Mr. Carson is also affiliated with American Legacy PAC, a group that raised about $6 million, spent $5.1 million, and had about $870,000 on hand.

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, a super PAC that has much looser donation restrictions compared to regular political action committees and to which Mr. Carson has no official affiliation, pulled in more than $12 million in 2014, spending $11.7 million and finishing with about $650,000 on hand.

RickPAC, launched at the end of July and affiliated with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, raised slightly more than $308,000, spent about $182,000, and had about $126,000 on hand at the end of the year.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Stand Up to Washington PAC, formed in March, raised about $275,000 and spent nearly all of it, kicking in for candidates like Mr. Cotton and Ms. Ernst, and also playing in several U.S. House races in Iowa.

Unlocking Potential PAC, a super PAC launched in June and affiliated with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who has recently indicated an interest in a possible run, raised about $1.9 million and spent $1.7 million, finishing with about $177,000 on hand.

A PAC and super PAC affiliated with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who has said he’s considering a run, raised more than $7.5 million combined.

Other potential candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have all formed similar political committees, but announced their respective launches after Jan. 1.


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