WASHINGTON - February 10 - Political nonprofits raised a total of $72.4 million last year for activities designed to influence federal elections, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the groups financial disclosures made available yesterday by the Internal Revenue Service.
America Coming Together (ACT), a group working to defeat President Bush this year, raised $12.5 million in 2003, the most of any so-called 527 group active in federal elections. Other such groups that were among the biggest recipients of money last year also are affiliated with Democratic causes. Joint Victory Campaign 2004, a joint fund-raising committee run by ACT and the Media Fund, raised $7.9 million last year, the second-highest total among political nonprofits active in federal elections.
Rounding out the top five are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ($7.5 million raised in 2003), the MoveOn.org Voter Fund ($4.8 million) and Partnership for Americas Families ($3.1 million). The highest-ranking Republican-leaning group is the Club for Growth, at No. 11 on the list with $1.7 million raised last year.
Top contributors to 527 groups last year include financier George Soros ($6.5 million), Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Corp. ($3.5 million), Hollywood producer Steven Bing ($3 million), RealNetworks chairman Robert Glaser ($995,000) and investor Linda Pritzker ($900,000).
527 groups, named for the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs them, may currently raise unlimited soft money contributions from corporations, labor unions or wealthy individuals. Several of these groups, including America Coming Together, the Media Fund and the conservative Leadership Forum, were formed in response to the McCain-Feingold laws ban on soft money fundraising by the national political parties and have been dubbed shadow groups because of their close ties to the parties.
Although they cannot contribute directly to federal candidates or parties, 527 groups may engage in issue advocacy designed to influence the outcome of elections.
The $72.4 million total includes organizations active in this years congressional and presidential contests. Figures for groups that operate at the state or local level, such as the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, are not included. Transfers between committees may have caused some contributions to be double counted.
2004 Congressional Campaign Profiles
and State-by-State Breakdowns
Financial breakdowns of every congressional race in the country and of campaign giving by state are now available on OpenSecrets.org.
CRPs congressional race profiles analyze the fund-raising and spending of every House and Senate candidate who has filed a campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission. Visitors can compare the fund-raising of candidates with that of their opponents, including totals raised and spent, cash on hand and top contributors by organization and industry.
Visitors can view the proportion of candidates money raised within their states and outside their states, as well as fund-raising breakdowns by metro area and ZIP code. Also included is each candidates quality of disclosure.
The Centers Get Local! section allows visitors to view federal campaign giving for each of the 50 states. Each state profile includes a listing of the congressional races in that state and the top industries and organizations contributing within that state to federal candidates and parties. Breakdowns of giving by each states counties, top metro areas and top ZIP codes are also available, as are contributions within each state to the presidential candidates.