Potential Republican Presidential Candidates Raise Big Bucks in PACs

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2010   |   2:42PM   |   Washington, DC

New figures from the Federal Election Commission show potential Republican presidential candidates for the 2012 campaign are raising big bucks through their political action committees.

The PACs provide financial support for candidates by building relationships with them, pay for the salaries of staff people who can help get them better known in crucial primary and caucus states as well as nationwide, and help with travel and other expenses.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin led the way in the fundraising over the last month and a half leading up to and following the midterm elections as her committee brought in $460,000 and has $1.2 million cash on hand. Her organization provided support for about four dozen Republican congressional candidates and she made donations to the Republican state parties in South Carolina, New Hampshire and Alaska.

Palin’s fundraising got a boost in part because of the publicity surrounding the release of her new book.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC raised $285,295 during the same time period and he has also been very active endorsing, donating to and stumping for candidates. He also raised an additional $273,000 through a network of other state political action committees. His federal political action committee now has more than $1 million on hand.

Tim Pawlenty, the current Minnesota governor, also pulled in a hefty amount, $140,000, but spent more than some of the other potential candidates by doling out $300,000 over the last month as he helped candidates nationwide. He helped candidates in New Hampshire, Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Tom Corbett — both of whom won their races.

Freedom First, his national political action committee, had about $350,000 on hand at the end of the period, and he also operates state-level political action committees in Iowa and New Hampshire. His book, Courage to Stand, comes out in January.

Former House Speaker New Gingrich operates the American Solutions PAC and it raised $314,106 and directed over $200,000 to candidates and donated $20,000 to the Iowa’s House Majority Fund in the state that leads the presidential contest.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s committee raised $108,152 and he spent $60,000 supporting candidates and state parties as well as sending $5,000 to the Iowa and New Hampshire Republican parties as well as those in other states.

Numbers from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee were not readily available. Other potential presidential candidates include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana congressman Mike Pence, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Rep. Ron Paul, and former New Mexico Gov. Steve Johnson.