FACT CHECK: Did Beto O’Rourke Raise More In A Single Quarter Than Jeb Bush’s Entire Presidential Campaign?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Shane Goldmacher, chief Metro political correspondent for The New York Times, said in a tweet that Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised more for his Texas Senate campaign in three months than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush raised during his whole 2016 presidential campaign.

“Some context on @BetoORourke’s $38.1 million raised in a quarter. Jeb Bush’s entire 2016 presidential campaign raised $35.5 million,” Goldmacher tweeted Friday.

Verdict: True

O’Rourke announced that his campaign had raised $38.1 million in the third quarter of 2018, surpassing the $35.5 million in total campaign receipts for Bush’s presidential campaign committee.

Bush’s super PAC, however, raised over $100 million to support his 2016 presidential bid.

Fact Check:

O’Rourke, who is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, said Friday that he raised $38.1 million from 802,836 contributions from July through September, setting a new record for money raised in one quarter by a Senate campaign.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) data shows that O’Rourke’s campaign received $23.6 million through June 30. The $38.1 million is not yet reflected on the FEC website because third-quarter FEC filings were due Monday.

Bush’s presidential campaign committee received $35.5 million during the 2016 campaign cycle, FEC data shows. That includes a $250,000 loan from Bush to his campaign, $778,909 in offsets to expenditures (such as reimbursements and returns) and $97,208 in other receipts. He announced his candidacy in June 2015 and dropped out of the race eight months later, in February 2016.

While O’Rourke’s quarterly haul surpassed apples-to-apples donations to Bush’s campaign, Right to Rise USA, a super PAC that supported Bush, received $121.7 million, with $118.7 million of that coming from contributions. Glenn Thrush, a Washington, D.C. correspondent for the Times, noted the large sum raised by the super PAC in a response to Goldmacher’s tweet.

Federal law places caps on donations to traditional campaign committees, but super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money and spend it to support candidates as long as they don’t coordinate with them. Right to Rise USA spent $86.8 million on advertisements, direct mail and other activities in support of Bush or against his Republican primary opponents.

O’Rourke’s campaign says it does not accept donations from PACs or special interest groups. He does not have a leadership PAC and has discouraged outside PACs from supporting his Senate campaign.

A few liberal PACs have gotten involved in the Texas Senate race despite O’Rourke’s aversion. The Texas Organizing Project PAC has spent $195,344 in support of O’Rourke, MoveOn.org’s PAC has spent $10,550 to oppose Cruz and $32,352 in support of O’Rourke and the FTC (Fire Ted Cruz) PAC has spent $96,754 to oppose Cruz.

Cruz said Oct. 4 that his campaign committee raised over $12 million in the third quarter of 2018. Prior to July, Cruz’s campaign raised $13.2 million (including $10.5 million in contributions) and the Ted Cruz Victory Committee, a joint fundraising effort between his leadership PAC and his campaign, raised $4.1 million.

Outside PACs and super PACs such as Texans Are, Club for Growth Action and the Ending Spending Action Fund have spent over $5 million against O’Rourke or in support of Cruz.

The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Cruz leading 7 points over O’Rourke.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter