Rather, it was candidates' campaign organizations, with strict
fundraising caps, that led the way, Federal Election Commission
filings released on Sunday showed.
Official campaigns, which can accept donations of only up to $2,700
from individuals for the primary races, spent $322 million in 2015,
the filings showed.
By contrast, Super PACs, which came into being after a controversial
Supreme Court ruling in 2010 and can raise and spend unlimited
amounts, spent under $200 million on the effort to elect the next
Super PACs usually spend heavily on political advertising, but are
barred from sharing strategy plans or even schedules with the
candidates they support.
Much of the money raised by official campaigns has to fund travel
and accommodation costs, but they also spent heavily on advertising
in 2015, perhaps in part because they are generally entitled to much
cheaper television rates.
Among the presidential candidates, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a
Democrat from Vermont, spent at least $10 million on advertising in
the last three months of the year. His rival, former secretary of
state Hillary Clinton, spent at least $8 million.
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On the Republican side, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio spent the most on
television ads, at $8 million, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben
Carson at $3 million.
Even when it comes to fundraising, campaigns are leading the way,
bringing in $449 million in 2015 against $341 million for the Super
Whether this pattern will hold in 2016 is unclear. Super PACs had
$158 million in hand to spend in the coming months, while the
campaigns collectively had $128 million.
(Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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