Updated at 4:30 pm EDT:
A super-political action committee devoted to helping re-elect President Barack Obama raised more than $6 million in June, its best month yet, said Bill Burton, Priorities USA Action co-founder and former White House spokesman.
The super-PAC has taken in a total of $20 million and has another $20 million in commitments, Burton said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. Priorities expects to raise and spend $100 million by the Nov. 6 election between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said.
Democrats initially were reluctant to give to super-PACs, organizations that can receive unlimited donations from individuals and corporations, which emerged after a 2010 Supreme Court decision. Burton said they’re now opening their checkbooks.
“People look at the polls, and they see this is a tight race,” he said. “And I think that they’re concerned about the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s coming in from the right in this election.”
Four Democratic super-PACs announced today that they had raised more than $25 million during the last three months.
Their fundraising figures show they have a long way to go to catch up with similar Republican groups. Just one super-PAC, Restore Our Future, which is supporting presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, raised $31 million during the first five months of 2012. Exact comparisons cannot be made because most of the Democratic groups file quarterly, meaning their reports are due at the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, while the Republicans file monthly, with their next report due July 20.
Priorities USA Action, Burton’s group, reported raising $11.7 million from April to June. That includes the $6 million that Burton spoke of today with Hunt.
Majority PAC, helping Senate Democrats, raised $5.4 million, while House Majority PAC, helping House Democrats, raised $4.3 million, the groups said. The fourth organization, American Bridge 21st Century, which does opposition research against Republican candidates, brought in $4.1 million along with its foundation. Billionaire investor George Soros said in May that he would give $1 million to the organization.)
Burton said he anticipates fundraising help from some of Obama’s Cabinet members, as well as former President Bill Clinton — though none has pitched in to date. “He has said he will be helpful,” Burton said of Clinton.
Obama, who had expressed a distaste for super-PACs, in February signaled to his supporters that contributions to Priorities would help him hold the White House.
Irwin Jacobs, the former chairman of Qualcomm Inc., and his wife, Joan, contributed $2 million in June, Burton said. Other donors include Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave $2 million in start-up money May 2011 and comedian Bill Maher, who wrote a $1 million check in February.
Most super-PACs and the presidential candidates are due to report their June fundraising numbers to the Federal Election Commission by July 20.
Priorities has aired 5,959 television ads in five swing states in the 30-day period ended July 9, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. The five states are Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which have a total of 89 electoral votes.
All of the ads are critical of Bain Capital LLC, the Boston-based private-equity firm that Romney co-founded. Burton said the super-PAC has spent “$10 million talking about Mitt Romney’s career in business” — an expenditure that he said has paid off.
“It’s one of the only things that’s actually moved numbers in this race,” he said. “You look at any public poll, any private poll, the focus groups, they all say that. What was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s biggest asset, his experience in business, has actually become one of his biggest liabilities.”
An ABC News/Washington Post poll out this month and a Wall Street Journal/NBC survey last month showed that people who live in swing states — where the attack ads dominate the airwaves — are more likely than the general population to view Romney’s business career negatively.
The Obama campaign is also weighing in on Romney’s tenure at Bain. Ads by Priorities and the president’s campaign team, which by law cannot coordinate, feature laid-off workers from GST Steel, a Kansas City company that Bain took over in 1993. It went bankrupt in 2001.
Priorities and the Obama campaign also have said Bain, during Romney’s tenure, invested in companies that shipped work to overseas call centers and factories, “offshoring” U.S. jobs.
Romney’s campaign has fired back with TV ads calling such attacks “unfair and untrue.” Romney says he left operational duties at Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics.
That assertion has come under scrutiny since federal and state business filings show Romney listed as the sole stockholder or chief executive officer in Bain-related investments and funds as late as 2002.
Jonathan Salant contributed on the super-PAC contributions.