Amid donors to John Swallow’s campaign to become Utah’s next attorney general, there was one political action committee that single-handedly dumped in more than five times the total amount raised by Democratic rival Dee Smith.
The Republican State Leadership Committee gave $250,000 to Swallow’s campaign. Smith, to date, had raised a little more than $47,000. Swallow’s total haul through the Aug. 31 filing period was $1.23 million.
So, why give loads of cash to a campaign that already has such a substantial monetary lead with only two months left until Election Day?
"We wanted to make a strong statement of support," RSLC spokesman Adam Temple said Tuesday. "We support attorneys general around the country as the last line of defense against the federal government’s overreach."
The Washington D.C.-based super PAC, established in 2002, will distribute more than $30 million in races around the country, Temple said. More than 100,000 donors from all 50 states send their money to the RSLC, which then disperses it among the races as needed.
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis criticized Swallow, chief deputy attorney general, when the finance reports were released — asking who the donors were and what did they want.
"This kind of shady politicking, out-of-state money, and laundering of campaign contributions is an affront to the people of Utah, and to the dignity of the office that John Swallow hopes to hold," Dabakis said.
Swallow campaign manager Abbie Borovatz said the reason they’re raising so much money is because Swallow "does not take this race for granted."
The list of top donors to the RSLC covers a wide range of areas, including the pharmaceutical industry, casinos, manufacturing and American Crossroads, the super PAC started by Karl Rove.
In the RSLC’s most recent tax filings, the top donor was Wynn Resorts, which has given $475,000 through 2012. But at least three pharmaceutical companies gave more than $110,000 for the year. Allergan USA Inc. gave $110,215; Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals gave $150,000 and Pharmaceuticals Research and Manufacturers of America gave $153,600.
American Crossroads has given $100,000 to date.
Temple said the RSLC has deliberately chosen to make its donor base public because "we think it’s important that we’re transparent and that we have a broad-based constituency."
Swallow’s other big donor was the Utah Prosperity Fund, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s PAC, which contributed $120,000.
The two biggest donors to that PAC were 1-800-Contacts and Nu Skin International Inc — both of which gave $10,000 each in the last filing period.
Smith’s biggest contribution came as a part of a fundraising Luau, that brought in $1,596 to the campaign and he had three donors each give $1,000 a piece.
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