WASHINGTON -- A little-known super PAC this week pumped $1.1 million into advertising to influence a competitive U.S. House race in Connecticut, but so far has only disclosed $10,500 in contributions.
The last-minute spending by the Government Integrity Fund Action Network slamming Democrat Elizabeth Esty as a "tax-and-spend politician" underscores how a new crop of outside political groups can reshape the financial playing field in close congressional contests.
Esty faces Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback in the Nov. 6 election to replace Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate. Esty raised $2.1 million through Sept. 30 to Roraback's $1.1 million, according to Political MoneyLine, which tracks political money.
The Ohio-based Government Integrity Fund Action Network launched its super PAC in July 2011 and showed little activity until its disclosure Monday that it would spend more than $1 million to produce and broadcast commercials targeting Esty in the 5th District. Its largest contributor to date: Roger Hertog, a retired financier from New York, who gave $10,000 to the group on June 14.
(The PAC also reported a $500 contribution from the Government Integrity Fund, another group which has spent $1 million to influence the Ohio Senate race between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel. That group does not disclose its funders.)
Hertog is a big donor to Republican candidates and causes, giving $250,000 in May to American Crossroads, a super PAC spending heavily this year to oppose President Obama and Democrats in Congress. He also has donated to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Hertog and the super PAC's treasurer, Columbus-based lawyer William Todd, did not return calls.
"It's a lot of money, and it's very strange," Esty spokesman Jeb Fain said of the Fund's last-minute spending surge. "It's certainly troubling that Sen. Roraback is relying on a shadowy Ohio group ‚?¶ that is suddenly interested in boosting his campaign here in Connecticut."
Roraback's spokesman Chris Cooper said the Republican has no connection to the group, but "is grateful for their support."
"We know they are from Ohio, but we don't know much else," he said.
The group's spending comes after leading congressional Republicans have stepped in to support his campaign this month. Boehner visited for a fundraiser last week, and former secretary of State Henry Kissinger will host one this week.
The attention from high-level Republicans "didn't hurt in terms of outside groups deciding to get involved," Cooper said.
The sources of the super PAC's funding remained unclear Tuesday, and federal rules could keep that information from public view for several days.
The group was scheduled to report its July-to-September fundraising to the Federal Election Commission before midnight Monday. As of early afternoon Tuesday, that data was not yet electronically available with federal regulators.
Previously, the group has filed handwritten, paper reports of its activity -- an option available to political groups that have not raised or spent more than $50,000 in a calendar year. Those reports can take 48 hours to be processed by the FEC. The next report, covering fundraising and spending from Oct. 1 through Oct. 17, is due Oct. 25.
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Read the original story: Obscure Ohio-based PAC spends $1.1M on Conn. race