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Super PACs are playing a huge role in the 2012 election, and some wealthy attorneys and law firms are helping to foot the bill.
Super political action committees, created in part by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, reported their activities for the last quarter of 2011 to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The filings list the super PACs' major donors -- many of whom are attorneys and law firms.
As a reminder, individuals and corporations can donate unlimited amounts of money directly to a super PAC. But super PACs must name their direct donors.
Here's a quick look at the super PACs and some of their biggest attorney and law firm donors, according to FEC filings:
Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney):
Paul Singer, manager of the Elliot Associates hedge fund, gave Restore Our Future $1 million, The Times reports. Singer is a Harvard law grad, according to Am Law Daily.
Other legal-profession donors include Stephen Zide of Bain Capital, who donated $250,000; Trott and Trott PC, a Michigan real-estate firm that also handles litigation, which gave $200,000; and Darlene Jordan of Palm Springs, Fla., who gave $100,000.
Make Us Great Again and the Restoring Prosperity Fund (supporting Rick Perry):
Personal-injury attorney Tony Buzbee of Houston gave $250,000 to Make Us Great Again; the PAC's founder, attorney Mike Toomey, gave more than $100,000.
A second Perry-linked super PAC, the Restoring Prosperity Fund, got $25,000 from Los Angeles attorney George Mihlsten. That was before Perry dropped out of the race last month.
Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman):
Attorney C. Boyden Gray, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, donated $50,000 to this super PAC supporting the former U.S. ambassador to China's campaign. Again, this was before Huntsman withdrew.
Priorities USA Action (supporting President Barack Obama):
The American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers' lobby, gave $50,000, The Times reports. But this super PAC also got more than $200,000 from a connected and similar-sounding 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, Priorities USA.
Because the nonprofit Priorities USA is not a super PAC, it does not have to disclose its donors. So if any attorneys or law firms donated to the nonprofit, there's really no way to know.