Think the $6 billion spent on the 2012 election was an astonishing amount? A new analysis finds another $1.4 billion in spending at the state level that is often hard to track – including some big contributions in Utah.
The Sunlight Foundation looked at giving to candidates from political committees that don’t have to report to the Federal Election Commission in 23 states. Of particular note was some activity in Utah…especially from the family of Jon Huntsman.
Utah, one of the four states that allow unlimited contributions by corporations and labor unions to PACs, is unique in having more individuals among its big donors than corporations, trade associations, labor groups and other organizations. There are as many as ten individuals or couples among their major donors in the last cycle. Members of the family of Jon Huntsman, the former governor and failed candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, lead the list. Huntsman’s family members gave to Horizon PAC, which was started by Huntsman’s staff well before he threw his hat in the presidential ring. New York-based philanthropists Herbert and Jeanne Siegel gave a total of $400,000 to Horizon PAC. For 2013, Huntsman has a new Utah PAC, called the Red Rock PAC, which aims to elect other Republicans who share Huntsman’s politics. Red Rock has brought in only about $75,000 so far.
Huntsman was not the only presidential candidate taking advantage of states with no contribution limits. The winner of the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, took advantage of Alabama’s laws to raise unlimited funds and received more than $440,000 which was then transferred to the PAC’s Boston office. The money is also often used to support local candidates who pledged their support to Romney’s primary efforts.