Bush 2016 campaign for White House rakes in record $114 million haul

By Steve Holland  and Michelle Conlin

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has raked in a record $103 million, the group, Right to Rise, said in a statement today, dispelling rumors that the outside spending group would fall short of expectations. Of the group’s 9,900 donors, more than 9,400 gave less than $25,000.

Bush’s presidential campaign also announced Thursday that it had raised $11.4 million in the two weeks since he announced his candidacy, bringing his total haul to $114 million. Contributions to individual campaigns are capped out at $2,700 per person, whereas Super PACs, which are barred from coordinating directly with campaigns, are allowed to raise unlimited sums.

The Bush campaign’s fundraising pace has eclipsed that of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Bush’s candidate campaign raised $710,000 per day in the 16 days since his announcement. Clinton’s take has been $555,555 per day in the 81 days since she announced.

The news comes as Bush, a former Florida governor and brother of former President George W. Bush, planned to meet some of his most-prized donors on Thursday and Friday in Kennebunkport, Maine, the seaside town where his family has a compound.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during town hall campaign stop at the VFW Post in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during town hall campaign stop at the VFW Post in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The Super PAC’s haul dispels media reports in early June that said it would fall short of its mammoth fundraising target, a development that would have been a major blow for Bush given the expectation that his whirlwind fundraising blitz, featuring elite, $1 million-a-head fundraisers, would surpass all money-raising records. The campaign is also hoping the fundraising news enables Bush to push past one of his worst news cycles, which came in the wake of his comments Wednesday that American’s should “work longer hours.”

Bush’s fundraising news also mark a defining moment in a new campaign finance landscape that has grown up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United to allow Super PACs, or outside spending groups, to raise unlimited sums for political purposes so long as they did not coordinate directly with candidates’ individual campaigns.

The new campaign finance era is one that is no longer defined by bundlers packaging thousands of small-dollar donations for candidate’s campaign committees but of billionaires funneling millions of dollars to the candidates of their choice through Super PACs, which are largely unregulated and allowed to collect unfettered sums. The 2016 election is predicted to cost $5 billion.

So far, the Super PACs of Bush’s Republican rivals, while also raising unprecedented sums, are lagging far behind him in the money race. Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s collection of Super PACs — known as Keep the Promise — reported raising $38 million. A nonprofit and a Super PAC affiliated with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Bush’s former political mentee, have together raised nearly $32 million.

Bush spent months raising money for his Super PAC before formally entering the race.

Right to Rise said it would release its complete filing-which will list the names of donors as well as what it has spent money on so far, later this month.

(Reporting By Steve Holland and Michelle Conlin; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andrea Ricci)

(Caricature by DonkeyHotey)

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