* Restore Our Future spent $21 million in August
* Raised less than pro-Obama Priorities USA
* Romney relied heavily on outside spending groups
By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON, Sept 20 The "Super PAC" backing
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plowed through
$21.2 million in August as its fundraising declined for the
second month, raising questions about how much of an ad-buying
force it will be for Romney in the final weeks before the Nov. 6
Financial disclosures filed on Thursday showed that Restore
Our Future - the "super" political action committee whose attack
ads on Romney's foes played a key role in boosting him to the
Republican nomination - had just $6.3 million in cash at the end
of last month.
The group's report to the Federal Election Commission said
it raised $7 million in August - less than rival Priorities USA,
a group supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.
Restore Our Future, which declined to comment, kicked up its
spending in August to try to counter Obama's well-funded
campaign, whose ads dominated the airwaves in many parts of the
country last month.
Obama's campaign on Thursday reported spending some $83.2
million in August, when it raised $84.2 million.
Romney's campaign raised $66.1 million in August, but spent
$61.2 million and could not dip into a large chunk of his cash
because a provision in U.S. campaign law walled it off until
after his official nomination at the Republican convention in
Tampa in late August.
The law helps explain why Romney's team - despite no limits
on contributions to its PAC and a healthy fundraising operation
benefiting the Republican's campaign - wound up being stretched
for cash at the end of August, and having to take out a $20
million loan to make it to the general election period.
The long-term impact of the dip in fundraising on Romney's
overall effort is unclear.
Romney stands to benefit from other independent groups that
can raise and spend unlimited amounts. They include American
Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, a Super PAC and nonprofit
co-founded by former George W. Bush aide Karl Rove, as well as
Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by billionaire
brothers Charles and David Koch.
Even so, the August totals - along with many of the
independent Republican groups turning their focus to races for
the U.S. Senate and House - could reflect some of the discontent
that many conservatives feel toward Romney's campaign, which
trails Obama's nationwide and in several of the politically
divided "swing" states that will decide the election.
OBAMA'S TEAM STILL AHEAD
The academic Wesleyan Media Project last week found that 54
percent of pro-Romney or anti-Obama ads run between late April
and early September came from independent groups.
Democratic groups, generally unable to match Republican
groups' fundraising prowess this year, funded just 9 percent of
ads benefiting Obama during that time.
The main pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA, also spent
heavily on the president's behalf in August, dishing out $9.5
million, which left it with $4.8 million in the bank.
But for the long-struggling Democratic group - Democrats
generally disdain the unlimited fundraising of PACs - August
marked its best fundraising month, with $10.1 million raised.
In the overall race for cash to keep voter turnout
operations and advertising running through the election, Obama
and his allies are still ahead.
The president and the Democratic Party have raised a total
of just less than $740 million this campaign season, compared
with roughly $630 million raised by Romney for his campaign and
the Republican Party, according to news releases and
PRO-ROMNEY GROUP'S TOTAL DROPS
In June the fundraising total for Restore Our Future, the
pro-Romney PAC, raised $20.7 million, with $10 million of that
coming from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his
In July, without any donations from the Adelsons, the
group's fundraising total dipped to $7.4 million. The Adelsons
also did not give in August.
Restore Our Future received two $1 million donations in
August: one from Bob Parsons, billionaire founder of the web
hosting giant Go Daddy; and from OdysseyRe Holdings Corp, a
Stamford, Connecticut-based reinsurance firm owned by
Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Corporations contributed just under half of Restore Our
Future's cash last month.
Priorities USA got a $2 million gift from billionaire hedge
fund manager James Simons and a total of $1.1 million from five
different trade unions.