Noel Brinkerhoff
All Gov

January 19, 2012

The race for the Republican presidential nominee has been dominated so far, in terms of money, by the super PAC—political action committees established by wealthy individuals trying to influence who wins the GOP nomination.

Front-runner Mitt Romney has benefited from several super PACs, including one using $1 million from hedge-fund magnate John Paulson, and another involving the Marriott brothers (yes, the hotel chain) who also gave $1 million.

If Romney becomes the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama, and wins in November, it’s safe to say that Obama’s financial reforms for Wall Street, limited though they may be, will be in danger of being overturned, since Paulson is big on getting rid of them.

The Marriott brothers, meanwhile, would expect for their help getting Romney into the Oval Office “favorable tax and immigration policies through their hotel companies,” according to The Washington Post.

Not all of the super PACs are in Romney’s corner. Casino owner Sheldon Adelson has spent at least $5 million on a group supporting Newt Gingrich. Adelson’s priorities include helping Israel and making life easier for the gambling industry.

Another big-money player has been Our Destiny PAC, which was helping Jon Huntsman. With the former Utah governor out of the race, it is unclear what Our Destiny plans to do with its money.

“There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now,” David Donnelly, national campaigns director at the Public Campaign Action Fund, an advocacy group favoring limits on political spending, told The Washington Post. “When you think about the amazing impact that this small number of people have on deciding the election, on the information that people will have on who to vote for, it’s mind-boggling.”

Once the Republican primary contest is settled, pro-Democratic super PACS are also expected to roll into action.

Meanwhile, last week the Republican National Committee filed a legal brief attempting to overturn the century-old ban on corporate donations to federal election campaigns, claiming that the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling voided the Tillman Act of 1907, which prohibited corporate campaign contributions.

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