The shadowy nonprofit backing Marco Rubio has spent a surprising amount of money

The New York Times, in an in-depth story published Monday, provided a look into a conservative nonprofit group “putting money behind” presidential candidate and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).

Some of the details surprised Republican media buyers. For one, all of the money that has gone into television advertisements supporting Rubio has come from the nonprofit group — and not his campaign or the “super PAC” backing him.

Additionally, the money that the nonprofit Conservative Solutions Project has spent on pro-Rubio television advertisements alone this year has totaled $US5.5 million.

The group’s total spending is about on par with the Right to Rise PAC, the super PAC supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). That behemoth operation raised more than $US100 million through the first six months of the year, but it has spent only a little more than $US6.3 million on advertisements across the board — television, cable, satellite, and radio ads.

The Conservative Solutions Project has spent about $US6.1 million in total on advertisements, according to data from a Republican media firm obtained by Business Insider.

The pro-Rubio group has spent the vast majority of its sum on national television — almost $US4 million, according to the data. In the first three nominating states, the group has spent about $US680,000 in Iowa, $US835,000 in New Hampshire, and almost $US600,000 in South Carolina.

The Times story detailed how the pro-Rubio group’s situation is unique. Though most other candidates have the so-called super PACs set up to support their candidacies, none of those super PACs are relying on the more secretive nonprofit groups for the bulk of its advertising.

Nonprofits like the Conservative Solutions Project do not have to disclose their donors under a provision of the federal tax code that grants exemptions in exchange for the promotion of “social welfare.” Donors to super PACs, which focus exclusively on elections, do have to disclose their donors.

A spokesman for the group told The Times that it is not set up to support Rubio’s candidacy.

“But the group’s commercials all focus on Mr. Rubio. The senator’s picture is prominently featured on its website, and a video featuring Mr. Rubio speaking is the first thing shown to the site’s visitors. The group is now run by Pat Shortridge, an adviser on Mr. Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign,” The Times’ Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Confessore reported.

“Mr. Rubio’s heavy reliance on the group effectively keeps secret the identities of some of his biggest supporters, making it impossible to know whose agenda the senator may be embracing. Mr. Rubio has avidly courted the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, for example, even signing on in June as co-sponsor of an Adelson-backed bill that would restrict Internet gambling.”

Check out the full New York Times story on the nonprofit >

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