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Comedian Maher to give $1 million to Obama "Super PAC"

Comedian Bill Maher speaks during ceremonies unveiling his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood
Comedian Bill Maher speaks during ceremonies unveiling his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood

(Reuters) - Comedian Bill Maher has pledged $1 million to an independent "super PAC" set up to help President Barack Obama win re-election in November that has been lagging far behind its Republican rivals in fundraising.

Maher made the pledge on Thursday night during his standup comedy special "Crazy Stupid Politics: Live from Silicon Valley" in San Jose, California, which was streamed live on Yahoo. A spokeswoman for Maher confirmed the pledge on Friday.

"I would like to tonight announce a donation to the Obama super PAC, which has the very unfortunate tongue-twister name Priority USA Action. I know it was named by Borat," he said, referring to a bumbling Kazakhstan reporter movie character.

"I would like to give that PAC $1 million," said the host of television political talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher."

In a statement Maher said that having Obama as president over his Republican rivals was "worth a million dollars."

The contribution comes just days after Priorities USA, the pro-Obama "super" political action committee (PAC), reported to the Federal Election Commission that it raised a measly $59,000 in January.

The sum contrasted sharply with the millions of dollars shored up by rival groups supporting Republican candidates who hope to unseat Obama and reinforced concerns among Obama's advisers that despite his campaign's known fundraising strength, Republican PACs could help the opposition outspend the president's re-election efforts this year.

Election commission filings on Monday showed that Priorities USA has so far this campaign season raised $4.2 million. Restore Our Future, the PAC supporting Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has so far raised $36.8 million.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is competing for the Republican presidential nomination against former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and Representative Ron Paul.

Obama's campaign is still a fundraising juggernaut, having already raised more than $106 million. But individual donations to campaigns are limited to $2,500 during the primary season and another $2,500 for the fall general campaign.

Super PACs, spawned by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that banned limits on fundraising and spending by independent political groups, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they do not coordinate with the campaigns.

Until earlier this month, Obama, who opposed the Supreme Court decision that created super PACs, kept a distance from Priorities USA. Amid the multi-million-dollar activity of Republican super PACs, however, the Obama campaign reversed its position to allow top officials to appear at Priorities USA events.

The pro-Obama super PAC now says that decision has notably boosted its fundraising in February, although has not disclosed just how much. The group is due to report its February contributions and spending on March 20.

On Thursday, just three days after its paltry FEC report, Priorities USA spent $230,000 in Michigan, the next battleground in the state-by-state nominating contest, against Romney, who is fighting to regain the top spot in the Republican race.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and Alina Selyukh in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)

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