Cruz, Rubio, Clinton 2016 Bids Get Million-Dollar Boosts
WASHINGTON – The Republican and Democratic presidential contenders reported on the financial health of their national campaigns even as they were in the thick of the Nevada Democratic caucuses and South Carolina primary.
Most of the outside groups known as super political action committees also faced a midnight Saturday deadline to report to the Federal Election Commission.
What we know, with some of that reporting in:
CANDIDATE CASH FLOW
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz began February with considerably more cash available than most, if not all, of his Republican presidential rivals. His campaign had about $13.6 million, even after spending $12.7 million in January alone. He also raised about $7.6 million last month, ahead of his Feb. 1 victory in Iowa.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished in second place in second-to-vote New Hampshire, continued to suffer from meager cash flow. His campaign had less than $1.5 million at the beginning of February. His campaign spokesman said he raised more than $1 million in the first few days after New Hampshire – something that won’t be reported to the FEC until mid-March.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson – a political novice who has raised huge amounts of money since beginning his campaign – raised $3.8 million, one of his lowest hauls yet, but spent $10.4 million in January. He had about $4.1 million left at the beginning of February.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had $33 million in available cash, after spending some $19 million in January, half of it on media buys, her fundraising report shows.
The report shows that her fundraising dipped below that of her primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton raised a bit less than $15 million last month, while Sanders landed $21 million.
CRUZ NETWORK GROWS
Cruz has the biggest network of outside groups helping him out – more than half a dozen. A super PAC called Courageous Conservatives has stood out for employing some of the most aggressive tactics, even though it isn’t the best-funded of those pro-Cruz groups.
In the lead-up to the South Carolina vote, Courageous Conservatives made thousands of automated phone calls bashing Donald Trump, who has consistently led polls in the state.
So who’s paying for all this?
The group’s January fundraising report shows it has two donors: Stan Herzog, a Missouri builder, and Christopher Ekstrom, a Dallas investor.
Herzog, who gave $60,000 last month, is a seasoned super PAC donor, having put up more than $1 million to back 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Ekstrom has a relatively short history as a political donor: His $34,500 contribution to Courageous Conservatives last month appears to be his biggest ever.
A far better funded pro-Cruz group, Stand for Truth, also filed a January fundraising report. That super PAC raised about $2.5 million in January. Its biggest contributor, Trinity Equity, gave more than $1 million. Corporate records show the Houston company shares an address with Quantum Energy Partners, a private equity firm run by Wil VanLoh, who has given the maximum legal amount to Cruz’s presidential campaign, $5,400.
Stand for Truth’s FEC documents show the super PAC spent much of its money on South Carolina advertisements knocking Cruz rival Marco Rubio, a Florida senator.
RUBIO’S SILICON VALLEY ASSIST
Rubio also benefits from outside groups. Conservative Solutions PAC spent more than $10.8 million last month- much of it on political advertisements that flooded radio and television ahead of voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The super PAC reported raising about $2.5 million during January and started this month with about $5.6 million in available cash.
The group was boosted by a $1 million donation from billionaire Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of the software giant Oracle. Another top contributor was Randy Kendrick, wife of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, who was one of handful of donors who gave $250,000.
A super PAC dedicated to electing Clinton brought in another $9.6 million in big checks last month. About one-third of the money that flowed into Priorities USA was from James Simons, a New York hedge fund billionaire. A laborers’ union contributed $2 million.
Million-dollar donors included Daniel Abraham, founder of the diet product Slim Fast; Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, a major donor to the group in 2012, when it backed President Barack Obama; and Jay and Mary Pritzker of the Chicago family that made its fortune in hotels.
Although Priorities officials had planned to preserve their resources for a general election, the group recently began spending money in the primary, against Sanders.
TRUMP TAKEDOWN? NOT SO MUCH
A super PAC claiming it would try to take down Trump has not really gotten off the ground.
Make America Awesome – a riff on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan – raised just $8,640 in January. That followed a disappointing December, when it raised just $1,711. The super PAC is led by Republican strategist and outspoken Trump antagonist Liz Mair.
Perhaps because of its underwhelming funding, the super PAC has done just a few digital ads knocking the celebrity businessman.