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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Democratic Money Pours Into \'Super PACs\'

Three leading Democratic “super PACs” raised more money in September than in any other month this election cycle, officials said, underscoring the growing willingness of wealthy Democrats to bankroll groups whose existence they had long opposed.

Priorities USA Action, the group backing President Obama, will report raising $15.2 million in September, thanks in part to aggressive fund-raising by party leaders like former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. The group has already reserved millions of dollars in advertising for the closing weeks of the campaign.

Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, raised $10.4 million in September and has brought in an additional $9.7 million through mid-October, officials announced on Friday, a period during which the party's chances of holding a majority in the chamber appeared to be improving. House Majority PAC, the Congressional Democrats' super PAC arm, raised $5.9 million, a figure the gro up said it was on pace to double this month.

“Democrats know that this race is even closer than we thought it would be, and if we're going to close this deal everybody has to get involved,” said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Priorities USA.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee said they raised about $181 million in September, slightly more than Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, which raised $170 million, according to officials. Mr. Obama's campaign, filing on Friday, reported spending $115 million in September and ending the month with about $99 million in cash on hand for the rest of the campaign.

But heavy spending by Democrats over the spring and summer on registration, organizing, and early voting turnout has left the committee in the red, with $4.6 million in cash on hand at the end of September and debts of $20.4 million.

The Republican committee, by contrast, has amassed a huge war chest for the final days of the campaign. The party began October with $82.6 million in the bank, much of which can be spent to match Mr. Obama on the airwaves. Mr. Romney was expected to file his campaign disclosures on Saturday.

Despite fears among Republicans that Mr. Romney's political difficulties in September would hurt his fund-raising, Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing his White House bid, brought in $14 million, more than in the past two months combined, and began October with $16 million in the bank, according to disclosures filed on Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

On Thursday, the group reserved $12 million for six days of television commercials, one of the largest such reservations this election cycle.

Most super PACs are required to file detailed disclosures with the election commission by midnight Saturday, documents that will shed light on the sources of the contributions and how much money they had on hand going into October.

But early disclosure s filed on Friday by Restore Our Future revealed that close to $4 million of the group's September contributions came from corporations, suggesting that businesses have begun to take full advantage of regulatory and court rulings that legalized unlimited corporate giving to independent political committees.

In some cases, the true source of the corporate money is hard to trace. An entity called KSMK Venture II, LLC, which listed an address in Peabody, Mass., contributed $200,000 to Restore Our Future on Sept. 11, bringing its total contributions to the pro-Romney super PAC to $250,000.

KSMK's listed address is the headquarters of Christian Book Distributors, a Goliath in the world of Christian book and music sales. The company's president, Ray Hendrickson, has contributed more than $70,000 to the Romney campaign and its joint fund-raising committee with the Republican National Committee.

A $200,000 donation from Meuchadim of Maine, LP, which listed an addre ss in Hollywood, Fla., appears to be connected to Simon Falic, the chairman of Duty Free Americas, the chain of airport duty-free shops, who is a major pro-Israel donor.

The sources of other corporate donations are more obvious. Greenpoint Technologies, which contributed $250,000 to Restore Our Future, is a company based outside Seattle that builds high-end aircraft interiors for “private individuals and heads-of-state clients,” according to its Web site.

Scott Goodey, Greenpoint's president and chief executive, and his wife, Julie, have contributed at least $100,000 to the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Individual donors contributed $11 million to Restore Our Future in September. Much of it came from a few wealthy Romney supporters who are mainstays of the Republican super PAC world.

Bob Perry, a Texas home builder who is one of the biggest donors to conservative candidates and causes, contributed $2 million, bringing his total donations to Restore Our Future to $9 million - more than 10 percent of the group's war chest this year.

Stanley Herzog, a Missouri construction company owner, contributed $1 million, as did Robert McNair, the billionaire owner of the Houston Texans football team.

Follow Nicholas Confessore on Twitter at @nickconfessore.

A version of this article appeared in print on 10/20/2012, on page A14 of the NewYork edition with the headline: With Growing Willingness, Donors Come to Aid of Democratic ‘Super PACs'.