Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney received a $1 million campaign contribution from a company formed earlier this year, but dissolved soon after donating the money to what is commonly referred to as a “Super PAC.”
W Spann, LLC, formed in March by Boston estate and tax-planning attorney Cameron Casey, an associate with the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray.
The LLC was dissolved on July 12, two weeks before Restore Our Future, a Super PAC formed exclusively to help Romney, filed its first disclosure of the year and reported the donation from the now-nonexistent company. The donation from W Spann was made on April 28.
Restore Our Future is a “Super PAC” formed by a group of Romney political aides to raise money for the former governor’s presidential bid. Interestingly, the group listed their address as a midtown Manhattan building that has no record of the organization. However, the skyscraper is home to Bain Capital, the investment firm where Romney served as a top executive and one of Rope & Gray’s longtime clients. The building also houses Randy Levine, a lawyer and the president of the New York Yankees. Levine is a top fundraiser for the Romney campaign.
Although no one knows for certain, the company could have been established with the sole purpose of funneling money to the Romney campaign. If that were the case, the company would have been able to receive contributions made by individuals or used money from any other source, including company profits it there were any, to contribute to the Super PAC.
“I don’t see how you can do this,” former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, Lawrence Noble told NBC News. “There is a real issue of it (Restore Our Future) being just a subterfuge. What you have here is a roadmap for how people can hide their identities.”
Ropes & Gray did not respond to repeated requests for a response from The Christian Post. However, the firm responded to NBC in an earlier story and declined to discuss matters relating to W Spann, and said in an email, “The firm won’t be making any comment on this matter at this time.”
“Restore Our Future has fully complied with all FEC regulations, including publicly disclosing donors on our July 31 report,” wrote the group’s spokesperson, Brittany Gross, to an inquiry from The Christian Post.
An examination of the mid-year disclosure of Restore Our Future revealed the PAC reported raising $12.2 million from 90 donors during the first half of 2011. The committee’s report revealed substantial support from Mormon businessmen and Wall Street executives. Financial executives are commonly known to donate heavily to both Democrats and Republicans.
One such donor has also been a major contributor to Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Prominent Republican and Texas homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation) gave $500,000 to Restore Our Future and contributed over $2.5 million to Gov. Perry’s last three gubernatorial campaigns. Perry’s entry into the Republican presidential primary could make things interesting not only for the Texas homebuilder, but others who have already heavily contributed to candidates already in the race.
Restore Our Future, or any other Super PAC, is forbidden by federal law from coordinating with the Romney Campaign in any way. A recent Federal Election Commission ruling allows candidates to solicit money for Super Pac’s as long as they do not ask for contributions above the maximum of $5,000, which is the maximum their campaigns can receive from individuals.
Experts familiar with campaign finance laws are critical of the use of such opaque companies like W Spann to donate large sums to candidates for federal office. A Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case in 2010 paved the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political advocacy, including giving to independent or Super PAC’s like Restore Our Future.
“It’s a sham disclosure. It’s a barrier to disclosure,” Michael Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute in Washington told NBC.
Both Democrats and Republicans use these independent or Super PAC’s to support candidates and advocate for positions such as health care and taxes.
A recent poll by Quinnipac University shows Romney tied with President Obama in Florida with 44 percent each.