Outside groups rush to help Clinton, Trump, Senate hopefuls

WASHINGTON — The father of Florida Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is among the million-dollar donors to an outside group helping Democrats try to win back the Senate this fall. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association’s political committee is pooling together small contributions to run attack ads against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Those are among the findings of the earliest fundraising reports this weekend. The presidential candidates and many outside groups must report their July fundraising and spending details to federal regulators by midnight Saturday. Here’s what we know so far:

Senate money rushes in

Outside groups facing no contribution limits are piling up money ahead of what could by a brutal fight for control of the Senate, with Indiana, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio among the key races. The Senate Majority PAC, a super political action committee with ties to Minority Leader Harry Reid, netted $7.3 million in July — its best fundraising yet this year.

Among the donors who gave $1 million is Thomas Murphy, whose son is likely to face off with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The Greater New York Hospital Association Management Corporation, a network of heath care facilities in the northeast, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, also wrote $1 million checks. Billionaire New York investor George Soros gave $500,000, and hedge fund manager James Simons gave $900,000.

Senate Majority PAC began this month with $6.9 million in available cash.

NRA aims at Clinton

The National Rifle Association, which endorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the summer, through its political committee has aired about $5 million in TV ads knocking Clinton. That helped keep pro-Trump messages on the airwaves even as he sat out. (The Trump campaign began advertising this week.)

The NRA Political Victory Fund’s July fundraising shows that money came from donors giving $5,000 or less, because it is not a super PAC and therefore faces campaign finance limitations. The vast majority of the $1 million it raised last month were from donors giving $200 or less. The committee had $12.3 million in the bank as this month began.

Trump, Clinton raised record sums

Ahead of their filings, Trump and Clinton announced their July fundraising totals.

Trump, who did not raise much money during the primary and had no finance team until late May, has proven a surprisingly strong fundraiser. In July, he raised more than $80 million for his campaign and allied Republican Party groups, his campaign said. That’s just shy of the $90 million Clinton’s aides said they collected in July for her campaign and fellow Democratic committees.

Clinton’s campaign said it began this month with more than $58 million in the bank. Trump’s campaign said that as of Aug 1 it had $37 million in cash and another $37 million in joint accounts with the Republican National Committee.

Campaign finance documents will give details about how both candidates spent their money in July.