Liberal megadonors outspending conservatives on joint fundraising committees

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Hillary Clinton has been able to marshal her top donors to give to her joint fundraising committee, which helps the party at large. Republicans don’t have a presidential candidate doing them that favor. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

With the Republican contest in disarray at the top of the ticket, party operatives are encouraging megadonors to look further down the ticket. But deep-pocketed conservatives are falling behind their liberal counterparts in the race to fund some of the vehicles that will help carry down-ballot candidates: joint fundraising committees, or JFCs.

A Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the top donors to JFCs — which allow candidates, party committees, and PACs to band together and take one big check apiece from contributors — shows that liberal megadonors, led by those loyal to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have given $12.3 million compared to conservatives’ $10.3 million.

Among the top 20 biggest donors to JFCs, just three have given predominantly to Republican committees. The biggest JFC donor so far? Tech billionaire Sean Parker, who’s shelled out more than $725,000, much of it to Clinton’s JFC.

Overall, the picture looks better for Republicans: GOP JFCs have raised $76 million, while Democrats’ committees have raised $42 million. But then, Republicans have more JFCs than their rivals, 231 to 128. Averaged out, there’s virtual parity: GOP has collected $329,000 per JFC, compared to the Democrats’ $328,000.

JFCs allow star fundraisers to spread their wealth around the party.. The donors can’t get around individual contribution limits — but they can get creative.

The Hillary Victory Committee and Democratic Hope Fund, for instance, are using loopholes to transfer funds to the Democratic National Committee through state party affiliates, and they’re doing it with megadonor money Republicans haven’t yet been able to match. The listed beneficiaries of her JFC include her campaign committee, the DNC and 31 state party committees.

Unsurprisingly, the industries giving to the Hillary Victory Committee closely track with industry donors to her supportive super PACs. Securities and investment — Wall Street — has given the most to that committe, nearly $3.5 million. Wealthy individuals who list a foundation or nonprofit as their employer, who together make up part of the non-profit institutions industry, have given $1.6 million.

That makes Clinton’s JFC like the super PACs that support her: Clinton can claim popular support for her campaign from law firms and the education industries, but a look at her big-money groups shows Wall Street and the wealthy dominate the giving.

Top congressional Republicans have to rely on a team effort to balance out Clinton’s fundraising power. Clinton’s donors have ponied up nearly $27 million to the Hillary Victory Fund; Republicans’ top group is Team Ryan, run by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, which has raised $23 million, followed by former Speaker John Boehner‘s committee, which raised $13 million.

After he became speaker, some conservative donors whose favored presidential candidates had lost threw money into Ryan’s JFC. But currently, Republicans lack a candidate at the top who, like Clinton, is pestering the prosperous to support not just his presidential bid but the efforts of others to maintain control of the House and Senate. The only two GOP candidates for president who had a joint fundraising campaign to speak of were Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose JFC raised $2.4 million and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who raised $1.7 million. They didn’t share; both JFCs gave only to other committees run by the two senators.

Still, some ultra-wealthy Republicans are going off on their own. A committee funded in large part by the network around hedge fund manager Paul Singer, Winning Women 2016, for instance, funnels money to Republican women like vulnerable Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and establishment rising star Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) who, thanks to the group, now has a well-stocked JFC of her own. Singer and his allies in the donor class have raised $784,300 to distribute among the women.

What’s unclear is whether more Republican mega-donors will follow Singer’s lead.

Check back with OpenSecrets.org next week for coverage of new presidential and super PAC filings, due April 20.

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