Super PACs and other outside groups poured more than $1 billion into the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Public Integrity. But not all of that money proved to be wisely spent.
Here are six of the worst investments right-wing groups made:
– $29,836,729 in the Virginia Senate race (lost by 4.8 points): Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads ($11,287,908 combined), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($4,494,618), and Independence Virginia PAC ($4,921,410) majorly backed former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) in his race against former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). Independence Virginia PAC, formed especially to elect Allen, received at least $1.5 million in contributions from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Allen lost the same seat six years ago after his infamous bullying of an Indian-American campaign tracker who he called “macaca.” This time around, he spent much of the campaign complaining about the national debt he helped run up in his first term and advocating for pro-polluter policies to benefit the companies he worked for as an energy consultant. As President Obama won Ohio by 3 points, Kaine beat Allen by a 4.8 point spread (52.4 to 47.6).
– $22,143,479 in the Ohio Senate race (lost by 5.2 points): Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ($6,363,714), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($4,392,434), former Rep. Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks for America ($2,246,409), and the controversial Government Integrity Fund ($1,300,000) were among the biggest investors in support of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) in his challenge to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Mandel refused to tell voters his position on the automobile bailout that saved thousands of Ohio jobs and advocated for fracking in National Forests. As President Obama won Ohio by less than 2 points, Mandel apparently lost 50.3 to 45.1.
– $15,316,062 in the Florida Senate race (lost by 12.8 points): Karl Rove’s American Crossroads ($4,022,607), former Rep. Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks for America ($2,883,893), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($3,846,303) all invested millions in support of Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL) in his challenge to Sen. Bill Nelson (D). Though the seat was previously held by Mack’s father, former Sen. Connie Mack III (R), the younger Mack’s campaign was forced to contend with headlines about his history of bar fights and was mocked as the “Charlie Sheen of Florida politics.” Mack apparently lost 55.1 to 42.3.
– $5,879,939 in the Illinois 8th District race (lost by 9.4 points): Former Rep. Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks for America ($2,164,046) and Now or Never PAC ($2,789,614) spent big to try to re-elect controversial Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). A leading opponent of raising the debt ceiling, Walsh generated controversy when he said President Obama only won because he is “a black man who was articulate,” yelled at his constituents at a local bar, and he belittled his opponent’s war record and injuries. Though Walsh claimed she was not a “true hero,” Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004, easily beat him Tuesday. Walsh apparently lost 51.5 to 42.9.
– $4,177,208 in the Illinois 12th District race (lost by 8.6 points): Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform ($472,053), Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ($586,103), and the YG Action Fund and YG Network ($1,184,259 combined) all spent heavily in support of candidate Jason Plummer (R). Plummer, whose painful interview as a 2010 Lieutenant Governor candidate went viral, lost an open seat race to former Illinois National Guard Adjutant General Bill Enyart (D). Plummer apparently lost 51.5 to 42.9.
– $918,789 in the New Jersey 9th District race (lost by more than 48 points): Patriot Prosperity PAC made a massive investment in support of Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach (R) — the host of TLC’s Shalom in the Home — in his challenge to Rep. Bill Pascrell (D). The super PAC was funded almost entirely by $1 million in contributions from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Pascrell’s lone outside support came in the form of a $10 expenditure by the Sierra Club. Even with this massive 91,878-to-1 advantage on outside spending, Boteach lost in a landslide: he apparently lost 73.6 to 25.4 percent.