Super-PACs’ Last Gasp: Mixed

Photograph by Charles Pertwee/Bloomberg

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is projected during a news conference at the opening of Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Marina Bay Sands Resort & Casino in Singapore.

Federal Election Commission reports due last night show a blitz of last-minute super-political action committee action in key Senate and House races. The late investments yielded mixed results.

Less than three weeks before Election Day, a super-PAC backing Virginia Senate candidate George Allen was down to its last couple hundred thousand dollars.

Then, a windfall. Las Vegas casino billionaire — and 2012′s most generous political giver – Sheldon Adelson wired Independence Virginia PAC $1.5 million on Oct. 22. Another Adelson million arrived Nov. 1.

In Massachusetts, the America 360 Committee super-PAC was under similar cash pressure. Again, Adelson came to the rescue, this time with $500,000 to support Sen. Scott Brown’s reelection bid.

Last-minute donors like Adelson show the power of super-PACs, untethered from campaign-finance limits, to harvest and spend big in a race. Those two super-PACs raised about half of all their money just in the two weeks before Election Day.

Both Allen and Brown lost, but probably not for lack of money. Allen’s challenger, Tim Kaine, was a prodigious fundraiser, and Brown’s opponent, Elizabeth Warren, got an assist from a super-PAC called Rethink PAC.

Nearly 90 percent of the $1.4 million that Rethink raised last year came in the door just since Oct. 1, FEC reports show.

Six-figure cash donations and in-kind staff time came from the Massachusetts Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union. Paul Egerman, who founded eScription Inc., and Joseph Alsop, co-founder of Progress Software Corp., each contributed $56,000.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also played late and played big. He formed Independence USA three weeks before Election Day, funding it with $10 million. He is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The super-PAC spent more than $3.3 million in the California congressional race that pitted Democrat Gloria Negrete McCleod against incumbent Democrat Joe Baca. McLeod won. Bloomberg’s super-PAC didn’t see the same success in Florida, where it spent more than $2.3 million in a failed effort to elect Democrat Val Demings.

Another fall pop-up super-PAC, the Hardworking Americans Committee, focused on trying to unseat Democratic Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. A rush of $1.2 million in donation in the final two weeks before the election paid for attack ads and phone calls, FEC reports show. Stabenow still won.

Who underwrote the Hardworking Americans’ spending spree with a $1 million?

Adelson again.

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