Outside groups have poured more than three-quarters of a million dollars into the GOP 3rd District primary.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission show groups from outside of Utah, mostly super PACs, have spent $790,176 as of Tuesday evening. Two groups, the newly formed Conservative Utah PAC and the Club for Growth's PAC have poured in more than a quarter of a million dollars each.
The biggest spenders (so far) include:
- The Conservative Utah super PAC dropped a total of $215,911.06 supporting Tanner Ainge and opposing John Curtis and Chris Herrod.
- The Club for Growth Action PAC has spent just under $300,000 supporting Chris Herrod and opposing both John Curtis and Tanner Ainge.
- National Horizon, a super PAC loosely affiliated with the Club for Growth has dropped another $149,500 supporting Chris Herrod and opposing John Curtis.
- The Senate Conservative Action Fund spent $96,950 on ads supporting Chris Herrod.
The Conservative Utah super PAC is a curious case. The organization was formed shortly after Ainge secured a place on the primary ballot. The outside group appears to be almost exclusively funded by Ainge's family, and with the sole purpose is to bolster Ainge's campaign. According to their pre-primary filing, $250,000 of the $290,000 they had raised at the end of July came from Michelle Ainge, his mother. Another $10,000 was kicked in by James Toolson, also a member of Ainge's family.
Super PACs are allowed to collect unlimited sums from individuals and corporations. The groups are also allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to either support or oppose a candidate, but they are not allowed to coordinate with candidates or campaigns.
While the $790,000 spent by PACs so far is astonishing, it's not even close to the most spending by groups from outside Utah in an election. Just last year, outside groups spent more than $1.126 million in the race between Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens in Utah's 4th Congressional District.