By JACK GILLUM and PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A deep-pocketed casino mogul is pouring a $10 million infusion of cash into a group backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's cause just as the Romney campaign makes its largest ad buy since becoming the all-but-certain GOP challenger to President Barack Obama.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson made the $10 million contribution to Restore Our Future, an independent group running ads that support Romney's campaign, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because they were not authorized to discuss Adelson's plans publicly
At the same time, Romney's campaign is spending $3.3 million to run television ads this week in seven general election battleground states. The ads began running Wednesday and will continue through the week in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, according to officials who track ad purchases. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Romney campaign has not announced the advertising plan.
While Romney's team has run ads outlining what a Romney administration would do in its first days in office, his campaign largely left televised attacks to Restore Our Future and to Crossroads GPS, a conservative-leaning group tied to former President George W. Bush's longtime political director Karl Rove. Both groups have been running negative ads against Obama in battleground states for several weeks.
Restore Our Future is staffed by former Romney advisers. The group has spent at least $46 million on ads backing the former Massachusetts governor during the Republican primary and since he emerged as Obama's presumptive challenger.
A pair of 2010 court rulings significantly eased campaign spending rules, allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to contribute heavily to super PACs and other independent groups. Such groups raise and spend money freely on advertising but are legally prohibited from coordinating with the campaigns they support.
So far, the vast majority of independent groups have supported Republican candidates. Priorities USA Action, formed by former Obama White House staffers to promote Obama's re-election effort, has struggled to raise money and keep pace with its GOP-leaning counterparts.
Adelson and his family contributed $21 million to a super PAC promoting Newt Gingrich during the Republican nominating contest. Gingrich suspended his campaign last month and endorsed Romney.
Since then, Adelson has told associates he would continue contributing to Republican causes but would consider giving only to groups with nonprofit arms that are not required to disclose their donors. Restore Our Future runs such a nonprofit in addition to a super PAC that is required to disclose its donors. It was not immediately clear whether Adelson's contribution went to the super PAC or the nonprofit.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are among the most generous super PAC donors this election cycle, the first in which billionaires have a green light to give unlimited sums of cash to groups that support their favored candidates. They're among a handful of wealthy Republican donors, including Texans Harold Simmons and Bob Perry.
The Romney campaign ad buy was first reported by CNN. The Adelson contribution to Restore Our Future was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Associated Press Writers Kasie Hunt and Beth Fouhy contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.