US Presidential campaign 2016: Republican candidates amass $280m war-chest - with favourite Jeb Bush raising $119.4m alone

Almost 80 per cent of the money has gone not to their official campaigns, but to outside groups

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The Independent US

Almost 18 months from election day, the US Republican presidential field has already amassed a collective campaign war-chest of more than $280m (£180m), according to new campaign finance disclosures. The figures, submitted on Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), represent a combination of direct campaign financing and donations to the outside groups backing the 15 candidates currently in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

The Democrat front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has reportedly raised more than $75m in campaign contributions and outside donations, but that total is dwarfed by Republican favourite Jeb Bush, whose overall haul so far is $119.4m. Their closest rivals in the fundraising stakes are Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with totals of $51m and $43.8m respectively. Some contenders, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, launched their White House bids after the end of the last financial quarter, and will not file their first campaign figures until October.

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States in June 2016

The FEC limits individuals’ campaign contributions to $5,400 per candidate: $2,700 for the primaries, and another $2,700 during the general election. But since a 2010 US Supreme Court decision permitted unlimited donations to so-called “super PACS” – independent political action committees, which do not officially coordinate with candidates’ campaigns, but can offer outside support by running political ads – corporations and the wealthy have contributed in drastically greater amounts. Super PACS and other independent groups are expected to outspend candidates’ official campaigns for the first time during the 2016 electoral cycle.

Almost 80 per cent of the money raised by the Republican field has gone not to their official campaigns, but to outside groups.

Republican candidates are still vying for the support of several major donors with deep pockets, including multi-billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who are said to have set aside close to $900m to spend on the 2016 election.

The Koch brothers have yet to open their chequebooks for any single presidential aspirant, though they have given some indication of their preferred candidates. Their political network, Freedom Partners, welcomed GOP candidates including Mr Cruz, Mr Rubio and Mr Walker to a donors’ retreat in California in January.