Super PACs have raised tens of millions of dollars since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United in 2010, a landmark decision that allowed the new breed of political-action committee to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash from corporations and unions.Here are five of the most influential conservative super PACs in the 2012 Election.
Restore Our Future
Restore Our Future is a conservative super PAC that spent millions supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. It was among the super PACs that raised and spent the most money in the 2012 presidential election.
Restore Our Future raised much of its money from the financial industry, including private equity executives and hedge fund managers, Federal Election Commission filings show. The super PAC claimed Romney, who made his own fortune in private equity, had an "unquestionable record of cutting spending, reducing debt, and creating jobs."
"My how time flies ..." the ad reads.
The conservative super PAC also produced a poster of Obama with the word "FEAR" printed underneath his face. American Crossroads was influential not only in the presidential race, but contests for U.S. House and U.S. Senate as well.
Club for Growth Action
Club for Growth Action is a conservative super PAC tied to the anti-tax group Club for Growth.
Its stated purpose is to "defeat big-government politicians and to replace them with economic conservatives. We do this by running hard-hitting TV, radio, Internet, and direct mail campaigns in critical Senate and House races across the country." Club for Growth Action was critical of what it viewed to be moderate Republicans.
Club for Growth Action took credit for its ads being "game changers" in several key congressional races in 2010. It spend money in races for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, notably against former Republican Gov. and onetime presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson, as well as Arizona and Texas. Its fundraising was in the millions of dollars, and most of its spending was on negative ads.
Among its largest contributors was U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a Tea Party Republican.
FreedomWorks for America
FreedomWorks for America is a conservative super PAC that supports Tea Party Republicans across the country. It portrays itself as engaged in a battle against the party's establishment and worked to elect conservative candidates to the U.S. Senate in 2012.
It portrayed itself more as a grassroots group working to mobilize mor than one million volunteers rather than a traditional super PAC. FreedomWorks for America did not focus its efforts on buying TV ads.
The conservative super PAC dispatched hundreds of activists to work on behalf of Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who beat back a June 2012 recall vote orchestrated by Democrats opposed to his public-sector union reforms.
Endorse Liberty is a conservative super PAC that backed Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. It described itself as a coalition of entrepreneurs and inventors "who have come together to promote the cause of liberty as the founding principle that powers America."
The super PAC was important not because of the amount of money it raised; Endorse Liberty brought in only a fraction of what Restore Our Future, for example, did. But it helped the popular libertarian continue his campaign long after each of the other major candidates - Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich - had dropped out.