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Marco Rubio backs conservative super PAC

Donation of $30,000 came from potential GOP presidential candidate's leadership PAC

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made a five-figure contribution to a prominent super PAC ahead of a push to court conservative support of his contentious immigration reform proposal, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of documents filed today with the Federal Election Commission.

Rubio’s donation of $30,000 on March 28 came from his leadership PAC and went to Senate Conservatives Action. That’s a super PAC connected with former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rubio’s one-time mentor who has clashed with the potential 2016 GOP presidential hopeful over the immigration bill.

Senate Conservatives Action was established last July as a super PAC. It seeks to elect “true conservative leaders to the U.S. Senate” by running “hard-hitting advertisements,” according to its website.

It is also linked to the Senate Conservatives Fund, which functioned as DeMint’s leadership PAC until he announced plans to resign from the U.S. Senate and become the president of the conservative Heritage Foundation last December.

In May, DeMint’s former campaign committee also donated nearly $84,000 to Senate Conservatives Action, records indicate.

DeMint, a favorite of tea party activists, was one of Rubio’s most vocal supporters during his initial U.S. Senate bid in 2010. At the time, Rubio was challenging then-Gov. Charlie Crist in a GOP primary. Crist ultimately ran as an independent, but he still lost to Rubio. Crist is now a Democrat who is reportedly eyeing another gubernatorial bid.

More recently, Rubio’s support of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants has earned DeMint’s ire.

In May, DeMint warned that the nation “should not repeat past mistakes by providing an amnesty bill."

The fiscal effects of Rubio’s bill are disputed. A report from DeMint’s Heritage Foundation calculated that Rubio’s legislation would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bill, if enacted, would significantly reduce the federal deficit over the next two decades.

The Senate Conservatives Fund still retains its status as a traditional political action committee, meaning it cannot receive contributions exceeding $5,000 per year. As a super PAC, Senate Conservatives Action has no limits on the size of donations it can receive.

Other major donors to Senate Conservatives Action this year include the late Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who contributed $1 million in February; businessman Richard E. Uihlein, who gave $100,000 in March; and Arkansas-based Mountaire Corporation, which donated $100,000 in June.

This marks the third straight election cycle that Mountaire has been a corporate super PAC donor. Ahead of the 2012 election, the company — which makes animal feeds and chicken products — also contributed $100,000 to Senate Conservatives Action, and in 2010, it donated $25,000 to the super PAC of the conservative Club for Growth.