Double Donors: Wealthy 2012 Contributors Use Outside PACs To Give Big To Obama and Romney


Super PACs Helping President Obama and Mitt Romney

Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is Priorities USA Action's biggest donor, giving $2 million. He is also one the Obama campaign's top financiers, bundling more than $500,000 in additional donations from his friends and colleagues.

The elite Beverly Hills couple J.J. Abrams, a star producer and director, and his wife, Katie McGrath, a public relations executive, both gave the legal limit to the president and an additional $50,000 each to Priorities USA. Abrams hosted an entertainment industry panel discussion with first lady Michelle Obama for her Joining Forces initiative in Hollywood in June.

Fred Eychaner, a Chicago-based media executive who gave $500,000 to Priorities USA, has also been a loyal supporter of the Obama campaign as a donor and bundler. Obama appointed Eychaner to be a trustee of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2010.

Asked whether the donors' behavior violates the spirit of campaign finance laws, Burton suggested the arrangement is necessary – for right or for wrong – given the influence of conservatives' money in politics.

"Given the hundreds of millions of dollars pledged by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers to defeat President Obama and progressive values, we thought the best course of action was to fight back," Burton told ABC News by email.

He was referring to the largest of the "super PACs" American Crossroads, which was co-founded by Rove.

"The Supreme Court changed the campaign finance rules and while we may not like them, we're not going to allow the candidates and values we care about to be overrun with right wing money," he said.

But many nonpartisan campaign finance watchdogs say groups like Restore Our Future and Priorities USA, while acting in accordance with the law, are perverting the democratic system.

"We have long had a national policy of establishing limits on what the individual can give to the political candidate because of even the appearance of corruption," said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog. "Now we have no limits in effect."

Miller said the concept of individuals making multiple political contributions in the interest of a candidate or cause is not new. But, she called the rise of super PACs run by the "friends" of the candidates particularly "frightening."

"Under the law, the candidates and the PACs are not supposed to coordinate. But it's a classic Washington wink and a nod," she said.

ABC News' Michael Falcone contributed to this report

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