June 1, 2012 / 4:03 AM / in 6 years

Senate Democratic "Super PAC" raised $1.9 million since March

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Majority PAC, a “Super PAC” helping Democrats fight for seats in the U.S. Senate, raised $1.9 million in April and May, according to disclosure documents released on Thursday.

The “super” political action committee had $2.7 million left in cash on hand by May 23, the filing with the Federal Election Commission showed.

The group reports its election-related fundraising and spending once every quarter but the latest filing was required because of the Super PAC’s activity in Virginia, which holds a primary on June 12.

In the first three months of the year, Majority PAC raised $1.6 million, with $1 million of that coming from billionaire hedge fund manager James Simons. The group had $2.5 million left in cash on hand at the end of March.

Since then, the political group received $350,000 from Chicago media magnate Fred Eychaner and $100,000 from film studio Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Both Eychaner and Katzenberg have also raised at least $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection effort.

Cindy Harrell-Horn gave $100,000 to the group. The Walt Disney Company announced today that Alan Horn, Harrell-Horn’s husband, had been named chairman of Walt Disney Studios, effective June 11.

Harrell-Horn also gave $100,000 to House Majority PAC, a related Super PAC helping elect Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives. House Majority PAC disclosed the donation today as part of its latest report.

The House group was required to report because of its spending in Arizona, which holds a special election on June 12 to replace former Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned after a gunshot attack last year left her critically injured.

Michael Kowalski, the CEO of luxury goods retailer Tiffany & Company, businessman Eli Broad and California personal injury lawyer Will Kemp each gave $100,000 to the group.

Labor union the American Federation of Teachers gave the group $300,000 and the group received $100,000 from Women Vote, the Super PAC of Emily’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to political office.

Both groups’ donations were disclosed in reports they submitted to the Federal Election Commission earlier this month.

Majority PAC and House Majority PAC are part of an alliance of outside Democratic spending groups raising money to support the party’s candidates in the multimillion-dollar battle for control of Washington against deep-pocketed Republican outside groups.

Republican groups, vowing to pour hundreds of millions into the races, hope to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama in the White House, keep the Republican majority in the House and take control of the U.S. Senate.

Majority PAC has spent $228,518 in Virginia, which looks to have one of the tightest races for its open Senate seat of the 33 up for grabs on November 6. Republicans need a net gain of four Senate seats to gain a majority in the upper chamber of Congress.

Most polls say the race is now a dead heat between Tim Kaine, a former Democratic governor of Virginia and close ally of President Barack Obama, and George Allen, a former Republican governor who once held the Senate seat.

Like other Super PACs, Majority PAC can raise and spend unlimited money to help candidates or attack rivals as long as it does not coordinate with campaigns or party efforts.

House Majority PAC similarly had to file its disclosures before last week’s California primary. It reported raising $1.1 million since March, with $1.9 million in cash on hand.

Democratic Super PACs have been badly trailing their Republican rivals as many Democrats remain staunchly opposed to the very notion of “super” PACs and the court decision that spawned them.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to remove limits on how much corporations, unions and other outside groups could spend on helping politicians.

Leaders of Democratic PACs have said that donors are beginning to step up their giving as the urgency of the Senate and House races builds up.

Editing by Todd Eastham

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