Roanoke businessmen and philanthropists Nicholas Taubman and Heywood Fralin are among the top Virginia donors to super PACs in this election cycle, according to new data posted today by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Super PACs can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors. In Virginia, conservative groups have had far more success than their liberal counterparts in raising money.
Taubman and Fralin have each given $100,000 to American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove. Abingdon-based coal company Alpha Natural Resources also has contributed $100,000. American Crossroads has collected more than $1.6 million from Virginia donors and it has spent more than $700,000 on advertising opposing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine.
American Crossroads works in conjunction with Crossroads GPS, a tax-exempt group that does not have to disclose its donors to the public. Crossroads GPS has spent $9.6 million in the state through Oct. 29, according to VPAP.
As noted here in August, Taubman also gave $50,000 last year to a super PAC supporting former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.
The most generous Virginia donor to super PACs has been Richard Gilliam of Keswick, the founder of Cumberland Resources Cor. Gilliam has given $750,000 to American Crossroads and $250,000 to Restore Our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, and $25,000 to Independence Virginia PAC, which has done broadcast and direct mail advertising opposing Kaine.
Independence Virginia PAC has been financed largely by two wealthy, out-of-state donors: Texas home-builder Bob Perry, who has given $1 million, and Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who put up $1.5 million.
Priorities USA Action, a Democratic super PAC run by former aides to President Barack Obama, had raised just $125,400 from Virginians through Oct. 17. It is the only Democratic-leaning super PAC to surpass $100,000 in funds raised from Virginians.
– Michael Sluss