Mitt Romney cemented his position as the favorite to win the GOP nomination with a first-place finish in Florida Tuesday thanks in no small part to an outside spending group that raised $30 million last year, more than the campaigns of any one of his rivals.
"Restore Our Future" raised nearly $18 million in the second half of 2011 to go with the $12.2 million the group brought in for the first half of the year. The group has spent $17.5 million so far in the primary races, just about double that of pro-Gingrich group "Winning Our Future." The super PAC has poured millions of dollars into advertising criticizing the former House Speaker.
The investment industry was far and away the most generous donor to the pro-Romney campaign. Donors included included several buddies from his old employer, Bain Capital, who gave a combined $750,000.
The top donors were Julian Robertson of Tiger Management LLC and Paul Singer of Elliott Management Corp. Both gave $1 million. Robertson is a hedge fund pioneer and wealthy investor. Singer is known for buying other nations' bad debt and collecting on it for a profit. Rooney Holdings Inc., a Tulsa, Oklahoma, construction company, also gave $1 million.
Chris Shumway of Shumway Capital Management gave $750,000. Bob Perry, a homebuilder whose capacity for giving to GOP causes seems endless, gave the group $500,000.
Restore Our Future was co-founded by Carl Forti, Romney’s 2008 political director. It also employs Charles Spies as treasurer, Romney’s chief financial officer and counsel in 2008.
The organization was created thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that allowed political organizations to collect unlimited amounts from wealthy donors, corporations and labor unions and use those funds to either support or defeat a candidate. These so-called 'super PACs' appear poised to play a major role in elections this year.
Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.