The outside political action committee supporting U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in his presidential campaign raised $16.1 million in the first half of the year, with four big donors making up the bulk of that, according to just-filed campaign finance records.
The filing with the Federal Election Commission covered contributions that came in during the first half of the year to Conservative Solutions PAC, a political organization formed to support Rubio’s campaign for president.
Topping the list at $5 million was Miami auto dealer Norman Braman, who has a long history of friendship with and support of Rubio. Braman’s support for this campaign has been known for months, even if the total he may ultimately contribute is uncertain.
The current filing shows three donations -- $1.5 million, $1.5 million, $2 million – with one each in April, May and June.
Lawrence J. Ellison, chairman and chief technology officer for tech giant Oracle, gave $3 million in two donations, in May and in June. Ellison was recently listed No. 3 on the Forbes 400 magazine list of the richest people in American.
Also giving more than $1 million were Besilu Stables LLC in Miami, at $2.5 million; and Laura Perlmutter of Lake Worth, Florida, at $2 million.
Conservative Solutions spent very little during the first half of the year and thus had nearly all its $16 million in the bank as of June 30.
The group is considered a super PAC – an “independent expenditure-only committee” – that may raise unlimited sums of money to spend supporting or opposing political candidates. While there are restrictions on coordination with or direction from an official campaign, such outside groups effectively extend a candidate’s message and can serve as a repository for big-check donors who have already maxed out their contributions to the main campaign committee.
Between this super PAC, a separate outside non-profit group, and Rubio’s official campaign and leadership committees, more than $40 million has been raised by the candidate and those supportive of him. While that pales in comparison with more than $100 million pulled in by or on behalf of Jeb Bush, it does make him competitive with other GOP contenders.
Campaign finance experts have said Rubio’s goals can be different than Bush’s – and that his broad-based support will demonstrate his appeal as the GOP primaries heat up.