A former executive at a private equity firm founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has been identified as the $1 million mystery donor who funneled the money into a shell corporation that eventually found it’s way to Romney’s campaign.
Ed Conard, a long-time friend and supporter of Romney who retired from Bain Capital in 2007, made the large donation through W Spann, LLC, a company that appeared to be set up with the sole purpose of accepting the funds and then making a contribution to the pro-Romney “Super PAC,” Restore Our Future.
Campaign guidelines allow political action committee’s that operate independently of candidates, but support a particular candidate to receive unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy individuals. These groups are commonly referred to as “Super PAC’s.” While the donations are not improper, they routinely draw scrutiny from political parties and watchdog groups.
The company and its contribution attracted attention after NBC News first reported the unusual circumstances surrounding W Spann last week.
W. Spann was formed in March, made the contribution to Restore Our Future in April, and dissolved in July. Cameron Casey, an associate at the prominent Boston firm of Ropes & Gray handled the transaction on behalf of Mr. Conard.
"I am the individual who formed and funded W Spann LLC," he said in a statement to Politico. "I authorized W Spann LLC's contribution to Restore Our Future PAC. I did so after consulting prominent legal counsel regarding the transaction, and based on my understanding that the contribution would comply with applicable laws. To address questions raised by the media concerning the contribution, I will request that Restore Our Future PAC amend its public reports to disclose me as the donor associated with this contribution."
"We’re glad Mr. Conrad has chosen to come forward putting an end to this supposed controversy,” said Restore Our Future spokesperson Brittany Gross in an email to The Christian Post. “Restore our Future will amend our report per Mr. Conard’s request to reflect him as the donor.”
Watchdog groups that monitor campaigns and elections say that W Spann may have violated disclosure guidelines. On Friday, The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, both nonprofit organizations based in Washington, D.C., filed complaints about the case with the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department. The complaints were filed prior to Mr. Conard coming forward, however his identity was not the reason the complaints were filed.
“We are pleased to see that our complaint promoted this immediate disclosure by Mr. Conrad,” said Campaign Legal Center attorney Paul S. Ryan in a written statement. “The FEC and DOJ will still have to determine whether the actions to date violated federal law and, if so, pursue appropriate penalties to deter such conduct in the future.”
Attempts to reach Mr. Conard were unsuccessful.