Thanks to Stephen Colbert, the light peering into the shadowy world that is the "super PAC" just got a little bit brighter. These outside groups, not bound by campaign donation limits, have already spent millions of dollars in the Republican primary process, focusing mostly on "negative" ads to drag down other candidates.
Colbert's stunt to sign away his PAC so that he could potentially run for president might seem like a joke - federal rules forbid the PAC's new owner, partner-in-crime Jon Stewart, from communicating with Colbert about the PAC - but the rules themselves appear to be created in a way that's ripe for parody. Many of the super PACs supporting the real candidates, after all, are run by the candidates' former aides and confidantes.
The main super PACs have a clear candidate of choice, usually stated on their website. But because filing rules allow them to keep secret the amount of money they've raised until the end of a three-month period, many of them haven't reported raising any money yet.
What they have reported is how much they've spent on advertising - the super PACs are required to report within 24 hours how much money they're using on ads. That's why in some cases, a super PAC will list having raised $0 but spending much more. When the three-month period is over - after the early voting contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida - the super PACs will reveal how much they raised and who gave them the money.
Below is a list of the super PACs supporting the candidates, based on FEC records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Restore Our Future Raised: $12,231,700 Spent: $7,795,104 Treasurer: Charles R. Spies, the general counsel for Romney's 2008 campaign
Citizens for a Working America Raised: $858 Spent: $0 Treasurer: David Langdon
Republican Truth Squad Spent: $0
Winning Our Future Spent: $4,204,685 Treasurer: Brent A. Mudd
Strong America Now Spent: $125,271 Treasurer: Mike George, founder of the eponymous group that advocates cutting government waste
Solutions 2012 Spent: $0
Make Us Great Again Spent: $3,793,524 Treasurer: Paul Kilgore, a former Newt Gingrich aide who runs a campaign finance firm in Washington
Americans for Rick Perry Raised: $193,000 Spent: $0 Treasurer: Mary E. Azevedo
Veterans for Rick Perry Raised: $16,625 Spent: $0 Treasurer: Bernadette Shelley, the wife of Dan Shelley, a former aide to Perry
Jobs for Florida Spent: $0
Jobs for South Carolina Spent: $0
Texas Aggies for Perry 2012 Spent: $0
Our Destiny Spent: $2,453,204 Treasurer: James David Stoddard, a Mormon counselor and the owner of a ski resort in Idaho
The Red, White and Blue Fund Spent: $727,200 Treasurer: Christopher M. Marston, an Education Department assistant secretary in George W. Bush's administration
Leaders for Families Spent: $218,411 Treasurer: Charles Hurley, a "pro-family" leader in Iowa
Endorse Liberty Spent: $1,107,348 Treasurer: Abraham D Niederhauser, a marketing manager at a company that sells tongue cleaners
Santa Rita Spent: $317,542 Treasurer: Donald Huffines, a co-owner of a Washington Catholic radio station
Revolution Spent: $100,000
Ron Paul Volunteers Spent: $0
Priorities USA Action Raised: $3,161,535 Spent: $321,229 Treasurer: Greg Speed, the executive director of America Votes, a liberal group that focuses on voter outreach
1911 United Spent: $0