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Romney tops Obama in fundraising, not spending

By Matea Gold and Melanie Mason, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s sharp turn to the offensive against GOP challenger Mitt Romney last month came at a steep cost: nearly $58 million.

That’s how much the president’s re-election campaign burned through in June as it pounded Romney’s business record and personal finances; its relentless television campaign alone cost $38 million, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

The expensive barrage came as Romney and his affiliated party committees outraised Obama and his Democratic Party fundraising partners for the second month in the row, $106 million to $70 million.

Heading into July, Romney and his party allies were left with nearly $170 million on hand, while Obama and the Democrats had $147 million.

That disparity — along with a record-breaking $20.6 million haul in June by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future — underscored the momentum enjoyed by Republicans in the money race, a source of sharp anxiety among Democrats. Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Obama, also had its best fundraising month ever in June, but it notched just $6 million.

Overall, Obama and his party allies spent nearly $20 million more in June than Romney and his affiliated committees.

But the race is not a simple match between Obama and Romney. This year, outside entities — super PACs and tax-exempt advocacy groups — have taken on an outsize role in the election because of their ability to raise unlimited sums of money. And they are largely favoring the GOP.

That advantage was highlighted by Restore Our Future’s June fundraising — the biggest monthly haul yet for a super PAC.

Its top patrons: Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who together pumped $10 million into the organization in June. The Adelsons and their family are on track to be the biggest personal spenders of the cycle. They nearly single-handedly floated a super PAC backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the GOP primaries and altogether have plowed $36.5 million into super PACs this cycle.

Houston homebuilder Bob Perry gave Restore Our Future another $2 million in June, bringing his donation to the group to $6 million. And Palm Beach, Fla., energy executive William Koch donated $1 million through his company Oxbow Carbon, bringing to $3 million the total he and his companies have given the super PAC.

A much smaller group of wealthy liberals gave money last month to Priorities USA Action, including actor Morgan Freeman, who put in $1 million. Chicago media company executive Fred Eychaner gave $1 million.

But big Democratic donors have largely steered clear of the super PAC, focusing their efforts instead on raising money directly for Obama’s campaign.

So far, Obama’s bundlers have brought in at least $143 million, according to a Tribune Newspapers analysis of data provided by the campaign.

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