The USA Today review published Thursday indicated donations collected by Republican-affiliated groups outpaced Democratic groups by more than 2-to-1. Overall, seven so-called super PACs raked in $23.7 million during the first half of the year -- $12.1 million coming from just 12 people and companies.
DreamWorks Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg led the way among Democrats, donating $2 million in May to Priorities USA Action run by former aides to President Obama.
Donations to super PACs show just a portion of the outside money collected, USA Today said. For instance, American Crossroads, begun with help from President George W. Bush's strategist Karl Rove, and Priorities USA, co-founded by former Obama spokesman Bill Burton, each have partner organizations that don't have to reveal their donors.
The unfettered giving to the outside groups, which must operate independently of candidates, demonstrates how recent court rulings allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts could shape the 2012 elections, observers told USA Today.
"The super PACs are for the wealthy, by the wealthy and of the wealthy," said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. "You're setting up a dynamic where the candidates could become bit players in their own campaigns."