Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
American Crossroads, the Republican super-PAC started by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, pulled in close to $12 million dollars in donations in the second half of 2011, according to Federal Election Commission records filed Tuesday.
The largest donations came from titanium magnate Harold Simmons and his Contran Corporation, which together gave seven million dollars, or more than half of the total. Simmons personally gave American Crossroads $5 million, and Contran Corporation is listed as having given $2 million. Although Simmons has also given $2,500 to Mitt Romney (as well as various small contributions to not-Romneys Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty), until recently his biggest donations this primary season were to the pro-Rick Perry super-PAC Americans for Rick Perry (now Restoring Prosperity), to which Simmons gave $100,000 last June. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Simmons is far and away the biggest donor to super-PACs: He's given $5.6 million, fully two million more than his closest rival, Texas homebuilder Bob Perry.
Only one other donor topped a million dollars in the Crossroads filing: Indiana communications company Whiteco Industries. Other big donors include billionaire Sam Zell, whose mismanagement of the Tribune Company earned him the ire of journalists everwhere. Zell gave American Crossroads $500,000, as did former Interpublic Group head Philip Geier. Kenny Troutt, the CEO of a Texas-based financial firm Mt. Vernon Investments, gave another $500,000. All told, more than three-quarters of Rove's haul came from a small group of very wealthy people.