GOP Mega-Donors Fuel Growth of Down-Ballot Super PACs

Republican mega-donors continue to put their money not behind their presidential nominee but into super PACs focused on keeping the Senate and House in Republican hands.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Karl Rove-founded super PAC American Crossroads, raised an impressive $28 million in August, according to new filings to the Federal Election Commission. Most of the large-dollar donors to the super PAC are Republicans uneasy about their party’s nominee and worried that he’s dragging down the party’s chances of keeping control of the Senate.

The donors are continuing a trend of Republicans unhappy with the top of the ticket and redirecting their focus on down-ballot races.

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These Republican donors gave the group its largest fundraising month yet, totaling $28 million in August – more than the $21 million the group had previously raised in the 2016 cycle combined and far more than its Democratic counterpart. The group is also millions ahead of its sister organization tasked with the same role at this point in 2012.

Senate Leadership Fund plans to spend $60 million on television advertisements through November 2, a massive sum for one Senate-focused super PAC. The group’s counterpart that played the same role in 2012, American Crossroads, raised just $7 million the August before the election – and just $37 million total for the entire cycle.

Its Democratic counterpart, Senate Majority PAC, also had its best month of the cycle but raised just $11 million in August and $30 million since the beginning of 2015 - about the same amount Senate Leadership Fund raised this month alone.

Related: Clinton, Trump Report Largest Fundraising Month Yet

Boosting the PACs fundraising totals was Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who contributed $20 million to the super PAC. August was their first foray into the 2016 race, and although they had planned to give large sums to Trump, his ongoing controversies kept the Adelsons on the sidelines.

The Adelsons are getting behind the candidate but not yet in a way that compares to the estimated $100 million they spent supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

The couple, worth $31 million, each gave Trump $2,700 in August - the maximum a person is allowed to give directly to a candidate.

They are also reportedly contributing as much as $5 million to a super PAC, Future45, run by Chicago Cubs owners Joe and Marlene Ricketts, that plans to run ads in battleground states to influence the presidential race, but that group is more anti-Hillary Clinton and pro-Senate Republicans than pro-Trump. It is re-launching to ensure that Trump doesn’t take down Senate Republican’s chances of maintaining its majority, said Brian Baker, the spokesperson for Future45.

Beyond the Adelsons, the Senate Leadership Fund's roster of support is full of mega-donors who don't support Trump.

New York hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is #NeverTrump, gave $1 million to the Senate-focused super PAC in August. Other #NeverTrump Republican mega-donors who contributed in August include Arkansas’ Warren Stephens, who gave $500,000, Illinois’ Samuel Zell, who gave $250,000, and William Oberndorf of California, who gave $100,000.

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Investor Kenneth Griffin of Citadel Investment Group contributed $2 million to the super PAC in August. Griffin has spent $10 million of his money this cycle, with half of it for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. He’s also given to the Koch backed group, Freedom Partners Action Fund.

Charles and David Koch are also Republican mega-donors who have decided to stay away from the presidential and have opted instead to focus on key Senate races. Their political network plans to spend $42 million on television and digital ads, which includes up to $250 million on all political and policy activity to help Senate Republicans.