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Dozens of donors give millions to super PACs

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 9:27 p.m.

More than 30 people dropped more than $1 million apiece this year on super PACs closely aligned with President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, campaign finance records show.

As the campaign enters its final, frenetic month, big-money donors can expect another call or two, asking whether they can spare a little more, said Gerald Shuster, political communications professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Priorities USA Action and Restore Our Future — super political action committees that ostensibly are independent but are run by former aides of Obama and Romney, respectively — racked up more than $50 million in 2012, just from people who gave $1 million or more. Under federal law, the super PACs can accept unlimited donations.

“They operate under the old fire department axiom that it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” Shuster said.

Romney's supporters led the big-money game: $32.8 million from 18 donors. Obama backers took in $21.6 million from 16 donors, including actor Morgan Freeman.

Among the donors listed below, several, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave tens of millions to super PACs during the past two years.

Successful September

Obama's re-election campaign, which only two months ago fretted that it was losing the money race to Romney, announced on Saturday that it was on the cusp of raising $1 billion for the election after posting its strongest fundraising month of the year, the Washington Post reported.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $181 million last month, easily eclipsing the $114 million that they had raised together in August.

The number falls just shy of the all-time monthly record of $193 million, which Obama set in September 2008.

Fundraising numbers for Republican rival Mitt Romney have not been announced.

Campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in an email to supporters that Obama's fundraising efforts in 2012 mark “a historic record for grass-roots politics.”

The campaign says it has collected more than 10 million individual donations so far this year.

Obama has raised nearly half his money through small donations with aggressive solicitation programs targeting email, social media and cellphone texting services.

The Washington Post contributed to this report. Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

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