Super Salaries

John Avlon and Michael Keller compare campaign and Super PAC expenditures:

For the presidential candidates’ actual campaigns, individual donations are capped. This means that campaign expenses tend to be tightly controlled, with contracts scrutinized to maximize impact and minimize profit. For example, FEC filing data shows that Obama campaign manager Jim Messina gets paid a yearly salary of about $90,000 while Romney campaign manager Matthew Rhoades takes home about $120,000.

But super PACs and their associated groups rely on big-dollar donors like Republican Sheldon Adelson or Democrat Jeffrey Katzenberg—who end up forking over millions at a time. As a result, political operative salaries and commissions aren’t subject to the normal laws of campaign gravity.

According to last year’s disclosure forms, the president of Crossroads, Steven Law—a longtime Rove ally and GOP operative—took home about $600,000. Paul Begala, a senior advisor to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action (and a Newsweek/The Daily Beast columnist), is currently the highest compensated individual Democrat on the super PAC rolls, taking in more than $335,000 to date this election cycle, according to public filings. (It’s certainly possible that others are being paid more but are using techniques to hide their compensation—for instance by taking percentages of ad buys rather than regular salaries.)

Molly Redden recently highlighted "the campaign's biggest buckrackers". Chief among them:

Steve Roche began the election as the finance chair for the Romney campaign. But just as money has migrated from the candidates to the super PACs, so have some of the most experienced operatives. In August 2011, Roche became the chief fund-raiser for Restore Our Future.

The 57-year-old isn’t flashy—he "lives in a middle-American, suburban house," says his friend and Boston political consultant Matt Keswick. And yet he’s proved extremely adept at parting wealthy Republicans from their money. Restore Our Future has raked in $90 million, making it the wealthiest super PAC in the race. Roche has been paid 4 percent [$3.6 million] of that total through a limited liability company under his control.