The Super PACs Report: Romney's Group Dominates
Mitt Romney isn't just beating his rivals in the number of delegates he needs to win the nomination. He's also creaming them in the financial support the candidates have from the so-called super PACs.
Hours before the deadline to report their financial standings, the super PACs supporting every candidate detailed how much money they raised in 2011 and how much they spent.
The PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, raised almost $18 million between July and December, and as of Tuesday had spent more than $17 million. The PACs' filings that were reported Tuesday night don't reflect any money raised in January, whereas the amount spent is current up to 24 hours.
At the end of the reporting period, Restore Our Future had more than $23 million cash on hand.
The group supporting Romney's main Republican rival, Newt Gingrich, reported raising just over $2 million, though that doesn't include a $10 million donation in January from Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino tycoon, and his wife. That super PAC, Winning Our Future, has so far spent almost $9 million.
Winning Our Future was created in the middle of December, and the $2 million it reported raising came in just more than two weeks.
Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, and they don't have to disclose their donors until the filing period every three months. Donations to candidates, on the other hand, are limited.
The other Republican candidates still in the race aren't getting as much support from their super PACs. Ron Paul's main super PAC, Endorse Liberty, raised just over $1 million last year, though it has spent more than $3 million, meaning it got millions of dollars in contributions in January that won't be reported for another three months.
And Rick Santorum's super PAC - Red, White & Blue - raised $729,000 last year and has spent almost $2 million.
The other super PAC to watch is President Obama's. Priorities USA Action, which was started by two former White House aides, raised more than $4 million last year. It's spent just more than $300,000 so far.
The PAC's strength isn't what Democrats expected it to be when the two aides, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, left the administration to form it. The super PAC also represented a hint of hypocrisy to critics, as Obama has repeatedly claimed that he doesn't accept outside money for his campaign, which is what a super PAC does.
Burton told ABC News that the super PAC's figures "won't be anywhere near what the Romney super PAC and Crossroads put on the board," referring to American Crossroads, a "527? group that acts like a super PAC and is the brainchild of Republican Party gurus Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.
2011 "was a year of organization and establishing ourselves," Burton said, while 2012 "is about being the countervailing force to Karl Rove and Mitt Romney's friends on Wall Street."
Obama himself, meanwhile, has demonstrated that he can still raise enormous amounts of cash for his campaign. In the last quarter of 2011, he raised almost $40 million, and the president, the first lady and Vice President Biden were expected to raise more than $5 million on Tuesday alone at a smattering of fundraisers.
ABC News's Elizabeth Hartfield, Chris Good and Matthew Mosk contributed reporting.