Romney holds wide lead in PAC money over Republican contenders

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's political action committees (PACs) have raised more than $1.8 million combined in the second quarter and doled out nearly $350,000 to Republican candidates.

So far this year, Romney has raised close to $3.5 million and given more than $400,000 to Republican candidates and causes. Those totals place Romney far ahead of other prospective 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.

Along with Romney's Free and Strong America PAC, which pulled in over $1.5 million this quarter, Romney has a total of five other state PACs, which raised some $329,000.

Romney has donated heavily to candidates in the early presidential primary states, including $42,000 to Nikki Haley in South Carolina and $20,000 to Terry Branstad in Iowa.

The PACs of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also had solid fundraising quarters, but neither came close to Romney's haul.

Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC pulled in $723,501 during the second quarter and has donated nearly $84,000 to Republican candidates. The PAC will report just over $939,000 cash on hand.

Pawlenty also weighed in on the South Carolina governor's race, backing Haley and donating $3,500 through his PAC.

Palin's PAC raised nearly $900,000 in the second quarter and doled out $87,500 to candidates. While Palin endorsed Haley's bid in South Carolina and campaigned with her, SarahPAC did not cut her campaign a check.

In Iowa, Palin did back Branstad over a more conservative primary challenger. Her PAC donated $5,000 to Branstad's campaign for governor.