Super PACs see GOP convention in Tampa as a fundraising opportunity

TAMPA-- The Republican National Convention here next week will be full of party elites and wealthy donors, making west Florida ground zero for political outside groups looking to raise serious cash in a short amount of time.

Not surprisingly, the super PACs and other outside political groups seeking to influence the election this November intend to capitalize on the occasion. Dozens of donor meetings, parties and forums await the thousands of delegates, candidates, activists and Republican benefactors who are thronging the convention's host city.

Restore Our Future, the lead super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, will hold donor meetings in Tampa during the convention. American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, two outside groups co-founded by the Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, intend to hold meetings with donors as well, while Rove and top staffers participate in media events throughout the week.

While campaign finance laws prohibit super PACs from discussing their future plans and logistics with political campaigns, "There's nothing that would prohibit people from going to the convention," said Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based watchdog group that tracks political spending.

"What they couldn't do is coordinate with the party or the candidate on matters like what kinds of ads they're going to run or when they're going to do them or what kind of messages they will be sending for the rest of the campaign," Biersack said."Super PACs are generally staffed by professional operatives who know the rules against coordination and we go out of our way to make sure that we're following the letter and the spirit of the rules."

Other organizations are holding events honoring the party's most prolific donors. Americans for Prosperity, a group that intends to spend as much as $27 million on television ads against President Barack Obama by September, will host a reception on behalf of its foundation chairman, David Koch, and Republican donor Art Pope. Meanwhile, the YG Network, a conservative issue-advocacy non-profit group founded by former aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, will host a Women's Pavilion in honor of the wife of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has donated millions of dollars to Republican causes this election cycle.

On the policy side, The American Action Network is planning to host a briefing that will feature talks from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as well as an appearance during the event by actress Rosario Dawson.

Although Democrats have not been as successful as Republicans in raising money through their super PAC and non-profit networks this election cycle, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte promises to be full of similar events. Democratic strategists Paul Begala and Bill Burton plan to attend their party convention in Charlotte to raise money for Priorities USA Action, the lead super PAC supporting Obama.

Correction: This article original stated that the YG Network's Women's Pavilion was being hosted by the YG Action Fund.