2:05 pm Mar. 21, 2012
Last week, Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting President Obama, leaked its $2 million in February fundraising and tried to put a good spin on it.
Co-founder Bill Burton told ABC News that was "40 times better than January," and ABC reported it as a "positive step" for the PAC, following an anemic January, when it raised just over $58,000.
But in the rarefied realm of super PACs, the number can hardly be considered a rousing success, especially when $1 million of the February total came from the controversial contribution of comedian Bill Maher. ("William Maher" in the official paperwork.)
That meant the group raised just $1 million from other donors, even after Obama gave his endorsement to the group's efforts in the first week of February.
For a window into the problem, consider the New York contributors.
In February, just 12 New Yorkers—in the state, not the city—donated to the group, for a grand total of $17,950. Most of those contributions came in the 48 hours after the president's endorsement.
The largest contribution was $7,500 from Stephanie Breslow, a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, and the next most generous was $5,000 from Alan Appelbaum, senior counsel at Cleary Gottlieb.
The rest were for $1,000 or less, with seven people giving between $200 and $300. Campaigns like to tout their small donors, but super PACs generally tout their big ones, since the premise is to raise money far in excess of the $2,500 federal limits individuals can give to a candidate.
Some of the president's local donors have cheered his decision to green-light the super PAC, but so far, most seem content to stay on the sidelines. None of the president's local big-money bundlers contributed last month, even after his endorsement.
Compare that to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, which raised $6.4 million in February.
The group collected only eight contributions in New York State, but for a total of $275,625.
Philip Geier of the Geier Group gave $100,000 and Henry Kravis and Marc Lipschultz of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts gave $100,000 and $50,000 respectively.
But Restore Our Future had its small donors too. Peter Ross of Merrill Lynch gave $25, and Jon Sweezey, who works in campsite sales, gave $100.