Catholics have no pope. But American Catholics still have their own super PAC.
While the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops serves as the main public policy arm of the Catholic hierachy, a lay-led group of believers launched the CatholicVote.org Candidate Fund in March 2011. It is affiliated with CatholicVote.org, a Chicago-based nonprofit formerly known as Fidelis.
The super PAC raised $476,000 during the 2012 election cycle, according to federal campaign finance records.
It made about $293,000 worth of independent expenditures, mostly on ads and materials that either supported Republican Mitt Romney's failed presidential run or criticized President Barack Obama.
It also spent modest sums aiding the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Connie Mack of Florida and Tom Smith of Pennsylvania. All are Republicans.
The bullk of the money the super PAC raised — $200,000 — came from Michigan businessman John C. Kennedy, the founder, president and chief executive officer of two companies based in Kentwood, Mich., Autocam and Autocam Medical.
Last year, Kennedy sued the U.S. government over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare, because he believed the law would violate his religious beliefs by requiring that the health insurance he offered his employees cover abortions, sterilization and birth control.