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Presidential candidates lean on well-funded outside groups

WASHINGTON — The 2016 presidential race is featuring some creative ways to generate cash to help candidates.

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel calls it the "Wild West," fostered by a 2010 Supreme Court decision that lets outside groups raise unlimited sums.

Donors can give only a maximum $2,700 apiece, per election, to their favorite candidate's campaign.

But outside groups that can accept checks of unlimited size include personalized super PACs that, while barred from directly coordinating with candidates, are often filled with their trusted friends.

And there are so-called "dark money" nonprofit policy groups that keep contributors' names secret.

Republican Jeb Bush, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and others have been fueling their presidential ambitions for months thanks to outside groups that will continue serving as big-money bank accounts throughout the race.