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U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan looks to reap fundraising rewards at Colorado retreat

Dermot Cole
Former Alaska Department of Natural Resources commissioner and current U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan speaking at the Arctic Imperative Summit on August 25, 2012. Loren Holmes photo

FAIRBANKS -- A New York billionaire backing Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan and two other GOP contenders in the Lower 48 has launched an “increasingly assertive effort to shape the direction of the Republican Party,” Politico reports.

Paul Singer, the founder of the Elliott Management hedge fund, has backed the conservative Club for Growth with $850,000 over the years, but he is also a supporter of gay rights and immigration reform. Sullivan and the two other candidates have been asked to meet with a select group of donors in late February at a "swanky Colorado resort," the report said.

"Despite his divergence with many in the GOP base on gay rights and immigration, Singer has been a good GOP soldier, giving $1 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future in 2012, and $7.5 million to various Republican Party committees over the years," Politico said.

The newspaper said Singer is a key factor in the group Friends for an American Majority that the committee set up to support Sullivan and Reps. Steve Daines in Montana and Tom Cotton in Arkansas. The candidates have not necessarily signed on with Singer’s broader agenda, Politico said, but the committee raised a total of $530,000 for the three candidates by the end of 2013.

Friends for an American Majority reported to the Federal Election Commission that it distributed $190,105 to Sullivan on Dec. 31. Sullivan has his own campaign committee as well, which reported raising about $1.1 million in the last quarter of 2013.

Politico said Sullivan and the other recipients of money from Singer’s group are expected to attend the two-day retreat. A fourth candidate, North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis, is also expected to receive committee funds, the news report said. Singer has started a club called the American Opportunity Alliance to expand upon his vision.

“The closed-door event -- which is also expected to draw House Speaker John Boehner and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, according to Republicans familiar with the plans -- is seen in GOP finance circles as a grand debut of sorts for Singer’s still-amorphous club,” Politico said.

In December, Sullivan received a total of more than $50,000 from 23 employees of Singer’s hedge fund, as well as contributions from the likes of TV wrestling promoters Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave a total of $10,400 to the former Department of Natural Resources commissioner. The maximum contribution allowed for a single candidate for the primary and general election combined is $5,200 per donor. The funds have to be segregated to account for the half donated for the general election.

Others brought into Sullivan’s corner by Singer include billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, brokerage owner Charles Schwab, and billionaire Cliff Asness.

Politico said the big names expected at the ski resort show "the influence that only a few big donors can command in the post-Citizens United era, when a small group of wealthy individuals can reorder elections with just a few huge checks. That new reality has shifted some of the power and control once maintained by the parties and their candidates to factions of major donors, like the libertarian-infused Koch network on the right or the Democracy Alliance club of major liberal donors on the left."

Dermot Cole can be reached at dermot(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DermotMCole.