MoveOn.org's PAC struggling to match past fundraising numbers

The political action fund for MoveOn.org is poised to have its worst fundraising year since forming in the 2004 election cycle, according to recent federal filings.

The liberal group recently sent a request for donations with this message, “It's like picking which of your kids you love the most. I just can't do it. But I'll be honest, if we can't increase our budget, we're going to have to pull the plug now on some absolutely crucial campaigns.”

Desperate pleas for campaign contributions are nothing new, to be sure.

“I just got a report with some frightening new numbers,” Jason Rosenbaum, online communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recently said in a reported email. “Republican groups are out spending Democratic candidates 3-to-1 right now."

But the recent filings by MoveOn suggest the group is indeed struggling with fundraising, as first reported by The National Journal.  

Documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission show MoveOn.org Political Action raised $9.1 million in contributions from January 2011 to March 31, 2012. The group spent $10.5 million and still has $2.75 million cash on hand, over the same period.

Though fundraising efforts for political action groups should improve in the final months of the 2012 election cycle, MoveOn will need a strong finish to match or exceed fundraising efforts in the past three election cycles.  

By March 31 in the 2010 cycle, MoveOn.org Political Action had raised $18.5 million. The amount was $14 million in the 2008 cycle, preceded by  $11.8 million in the 2006 cycle. The group raised only $2.79 million in the 2004 cycle.

The group’s May 30 message identified several races for which it needs money, including Democrat Elizabeth Warren's battle against GOP incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. That race is considered key to helping Democrats keep control of the Senate.

MoveOn.org Political Action bundles hundreds of thousands of small donors, according to the group’s website. The group started in the late 1990s as Moveon.org PAC , a federal political action committee -- the status prohibits it from accepting donations from any one contributor of more than $5,000 within any calendar year. The website also states MoveOn is funded mostly by people who give less than $40.

MoveOn.org did not respond to a request for comment.