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Texplainer: Who is Funding the Dewhurst and Cruz Campaigns?

Is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst drawing more donations from Texas voters than former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz? Which campaign is dominated by money from out-of-state groups? Neither answer is clear-cut.

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Welcome to The Texas Tribune's "Texplainer" series, where we answer questions from readers like you. 

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* Clarification Appended

Hey, Texplainer: The two GOP candidates for U.S. Senate keep bashing each other about where their millions of campaign dollars are coming from. So, just where is all that money coming from?

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, the two Republican candidates battling one another in a runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination, say the source of their opponent's funding is an important campaign issue.

Which campaign is drawing more donations from Texas voters? Which campaign is dominated by money from out-of-state groups? Neither answer is clear-cut.

That’s because the Federal Election Commission doesn’t require campaigns to report details about contributions of less than $200 from individuals. The funds raised from these "minor" donors are reported as one lump sum, and are referred to as "unitemized" in FEC lingo. 

Both campaigns declined requests to provide a complete list of their donors. 

This makes determining the source of Cruz's funding especially difficult. One-fifth of all his fundraising — more than $1 million — has come from thousands of unitemized contributions. 

Here's what we do know from the candidates' May 9 pre-primary filings: Looking solely at the money donated by individuals to both candidates, Dewhurst and Cruz are nearly even, raising $5.7 million and $5.6 million, respectively.

But of those contributions, only $118,000 of Dewhurst's contributions were reported as unitemized, compared to Cruz's $1 million. That means Cruz raised more money from small-dollar donors.

According to a Texas Tribune analysis of the candidates' itemized contributions (those that are more than $200), nearly all of the itemized $5.6 million that Dewhurst raised came from Texas contributors. Only 4.9 percent, or $258,000, came from out-of-state donors.

Cruz's numbers are much more varied. Of the $4.6 million in itemized individual contributions he received, 39.2 percent — $1.5 million — came from out-of-state contributors. 

Dewhurst reported more contributions from political action committees than Cruz did: $610,000 compared with $106,000.

Both candidates have also put their own money into the race, though in vastly differing sums. As of the May 29 primary, Dewhurst had loaned his campaign more than $15 million, but paid himself back $5.25 million. Cruz invested about $500,000.

Apart from the money the two campaigns are spending on the race, outside groups have invested nearly $7 million in the contest so far, according to FEC data. Groups supporting Cruz reported spending more than those backing Dewhurst, $3.8 million, compared with $3 million. All of Dewhurst’s support has come from two Texas-based Super PACs that were created to help his campaign. Cruz’s support has come from a handful of national groups that have also been active in races in other states.

Both campaigns are making the source of campaign funds a key issue that is likely to stick around through the July 31 runoff. On Monday, Dewhurst released a web ad accusing Cruz of "gobbling up D.C. money."

In Kerrville last week, Cruz said that the race pits his army of small donors from around the country against deep-pocketed “lobbyists” from Austin and Washington, D.C., that support Dewhurst.

The Bottom Line: Dewhurst, with a net $10.25 million campaign loan to himself, is easily his own largest single source of funding. The majority of the money he has received from individuals has come from people who gave $200 or more, and most of that came from Texas.

Cruz has repeatedly bragged on the campaign trail that he has more than 20,000 donors, but because that number includes contributors who gave less than $200 (meaning they are not required to be disclosed), we have no choice but to trust him on that. Of the 3,700 contributors who gave Cruz $200 or more and appear in the disclosure reports, 39.2 percent are from out of state. 

And when it comes to Super PACs, national groups have spent more than $3.8 million on Cruz, outpacing the $3 million spent by two Texas-based Super PACs supporting Dewhurst.

* In an earlier version of the story, it was reported that Dewhurst had loaned his campaign more than $14 million. However, the calculation that found this number did not take into account loan repayments his campaign made back to Dewhurst as of the May 9 pre-primary filing. Dewhurst has loaned his campaign $15.5 million, and paid himself back $5.25 million, leaving a net personal campaign loan total of $10.25 million.

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2012 elections David Dewhurst Ted Cruz