Donors to major parties hand over $625M so far

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Associated Press

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 20 at 11:04 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donors to the campaign committees of the two major parties have forked over at least $625 million so far this election cycle and show no signs of slowing down. That heavy giving will allow the campaign committees to flood voters' televisions with ads, mailboxes with fliers, and phones with calls promoting candidates for House and Senate races.

Outside groups, meanwhile, continued raising and spending millions more.

Federal law required the committees to report no later than Friday how much money they have raised — and, perhaps more telling, how much they have spent.

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DEMOCRATS PAY DOWN DEBT

The Democratic National Committee is making progress at whittling down a once-enormous debt, trimming its red ink to less than $5 million for the first time since mid-2012.

The DNC amassed significant debt as it spent heavily on President Barack Obama's re-election bid in 2012. At the end of July 2012, the DNC reported almost $4.8 million in red ink, but that number ballooned to a high of almost $23 million in March 2013 as bills came due and donors tired of giving.

Despite raising $107 million this election cycle, the DNC is still carrying $4.9 million in debt. The biggest of the 44 outstanding bills is for Obama pollster Joel Benenson. The Benenson Strategy Group is owed $824,000.

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RNC CONTINUES STEADY FUNDRAISING

The Republican National Committee again posted steady fundraising, bringing in another $8.2 million in May.

Although the DNC raised slightly more — $8.8 million — the RNC has been a reliable fundraising operation that sends donors dollars out to state affiliates. The RNC has outraised the DNC in 10 of the last 17 months.

Republicans also have built an almost 2-to-1 cash advantage. The RNC has $13.5 million in the bank. The DNC has $7.9 million saved.

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SENATE DEMS BUY BUILDING, BEST GOP

Senate Democrats' campaign arm borrowed $5.2 million to buy a Capitol Hill home next to its headquarters.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last 11 years had leased the Mott House, which has campaign committee offices and is a frequent venue for Democratic fundraisers. The campaign committee borrowed the entire purchase price for the property, which is steps from the Senate grounds and a favorite of donors.

The DSCC report also showed it again outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee, continuing a trend during 15 of the last 17 months.

Democratic donors gave $8.3 million and helped the DSCC save $28.2 million.

GOP donors, meanwhile, gave $5.8 million in May. The committee has saved $22.1 million.

In all, the Senate committees have raised a combined $154 million and saved $50 million. They also have spent almost $109 million.

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DESPITE LONG ODDS, HOUSE DEMS TOP GOP

House Democrats' campaign arm last month again outraised Republican rivals despite long odds of ousting the GOP from the majority.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $7.3 million in May while the National Republican Congressional Committee collected $6 million. Democrats' House-oriented committee has now outraised its GOP counterpart in 15 of the last 17 months.

Combined, the committees have raised $241 million this cycle and have banked $81 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. They have spent a combined $128 million.

Those staggering sums, however, might be irrelevant to deciding the balance of power in the House. Redrawn congressional districts after the 2010 census heavily favor Republicans, and the party that holds the White House historically has lost seats in elections at this point in a president's term. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is very unpopular in many congressional districts.

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HOUSE COMMITTEES START SPENDING

The campaign committees are amassing huge bank accounts and are ready to empty them on ads.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has saved $45.9 million and has booked $44 million in advertising time for November's elections.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has banked $35.2 million. It has reserved $30 million in air time.

Those ad reservations, which have not yet come from the committees' accounts, come on top of the $128 million they've spent this cycle.

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BIG DONORS STILL HAVE SWAY

The Democratic-backing House Majority PAC raised almost $1.8 million in May. Of that, $1 million came from Chicago businessman Fred Eychaner and brought his total giving to the group run by former aides to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to $1.5 million.

Eychaner, the founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., previously wrote a $4 million check to the Senate Majority PAC, which is run by former aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Senate Majority PAC raised $2 million in May and spent $7 million to help endangered Democrats. The top donation to group was $400,000 from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association PAC. Baltimore attorney Peter Angelos gave $300,000 to the committee, and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Tacoma, Washington, gave $250,000.

Backing Republicans, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer wrote a $1 million check to the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads. He helped the outside super PAC raise almost $1.7 million in May.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott

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