By midnight Tuesday, we’ll have our first glimpse inside the machinery of the so-called “super PACs,” a new breed of independent political organizations that have metastasized during this campaign. That’s when all active political committees have to file reports with the Federal Election Commission disclosing their donors and expenses.
Many reports are expected to land late Tuesday night, while the political class is busy digesting the results of Florida’s primaries. But the filings by the early birds are already underscoring the close ties between the putatively independent organizations and the candidates they back.
According to its report, Our Destiny PAC, the super PAC that backed the presidential bid of former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, raised $2.68 million last year from just 18 donors -- including nearly $1.9 million from Huntsman’s father, a billionaire industrialist.
Other contributors included C. Boyden Gray, a former ambassador and White House counsel, who gave the group $50,000. Jim Walton, a son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and chairman of Arvest Bank, donated $100,000. Venture capital investor James Swartz of Park City, Utah, contributed $100,000.
Before Huntsman dropped his bid, Our Destiny PAC spent $2.3 million on ads in New Hampshire touting him as a “consistent conservative” and labeling Mitt Romney a “chameleon.”
More than $300,000 of the PAC’s money went to Strategic Perception, the Hollywood-based firm run by GOP admaker Fred Davis, who is known for his quirky spots. (See “Demon Sheep.)
Davis was also the media consultant for Huntsman early in his bid, producing a series of cryptic introductory videos featuring a motocross rider weaving through the desert landscape.
In late July of last year, Davis resigned from the campaign to work for the super PAC.