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Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 7:06 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. A low profile wing of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has just reported raising a remarkable amount of money - $236 million in just the past few months. The report comes from Romney Victory, Incorporated, that's a joint fundraising committee that allows donors to give far more than the usual $5,000. Its limit is over $75,000 per person.
NPR's Peter Overby reports on how the fund works and what it's paying for.
PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The Victory Fund is mainly for big donors, so Romney does especially well in that fundraising while President Obama thrives on small donors. An NPR analysis shows that Romney Victory has raised a $120 million more than the Obama Victory Fund over the five months of the general election campaign. Despite that, the Obama campaign committee has had a $50 million advantage over Romney for President.
That's important because the candidate committee money is worth more. For instance, it can buy TV time at lower rates. But Romney Victory is deploying some of its millions in a new way for presidential campaigns. It has sent $8 million payments to four states that are not in the heat of the contest. Oklahoma is about as Republican as states get, but GOP leaders there set up a committee just in time to take the Romney Victory Funds.
Political scientist Keith Gaddie is at the University of Oklahoma. He says it makes perfect sense to transfer funds to noncompetitive states.
KEITH GADDIE: The committee chairmen there don't have their own temptations or their own needs to use the money. That means that you can move that money into a state like Colorado or Missouri or Wisconsin or Ohio where it's needed.
OVERBY: Another recipient of Romney Victory dollars is the Vermont Republican Party. State chairman Jack Lindley says they'll hold the cash till called on to deploy it.
JACK LINDLEY: It will be in the last throes of the campaign.
OVERBY: And as Lindley points out...
LINDLEY: This was not a one-way street.
OVERBY: The Victory Fund is paying the state parties $20,000 a month to park the money with them. In Boise, Idaho GOP director Joshua Whitworth said Idaho Republicans are using their 8 million for mailings into nearby battleground states, Nevada and Colorado. He said they'll be helping with other campaign costs, too.
State party officials in the fourth state, Massachusetts, didn't respond to an interview request. The Victory Fund solicits money for state parties simply because it lets them collect larger amounts. But then, the money actually has to go to the designated states. The campaign has to let go of the cash, even if it tries to keep control of it. Trevor Potter was general counsel to the last Republican nominee, John McCain.
TREVOR POTTER: The campaign wants the state parties to basically do what they ask them to do.
OVERBY: That is, spend the money the way the campaign wants them to spend it.
POTTER: Which is walking a gray area because this is money that is supposed to be spent by the parties.
OVERBY: There are some battleground states where a candidate and his campaign don't necessarily trust the judgment of the state politicos. So they look for ways to funnel in state party money from elsewhere. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.