How's this for an example of just how porous the U.S. campaign finance system is? A recently created company made a $1 million donation to a pro-Mitt Romney political action committee, then went out of business, leaving no fingerprints from the money's donor. Michael Isikoff of NBC News reports on this fascinating example in an investigative piece.
The company, W Spann LLC, was formed in March by a Boston lawyer who specializes in estate tax planning for "high net worth individuals," according to corporate records and the lawyer's bio on her firm's website.
The corporate records provide no information about the owner of the firm, its address or its type of business.
Six weeks later, W Spann LLC made its million-dollar donation to Restore Our Future — a new so-called "super PAC" started by a group of former Romney political aides to boost the former Massachusetts governor's presidential bid. It listed its address as being in a midtown Manhattan office building that has no record of such a tenant.
Isikoff writes that the contribution is the fruit of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision:
Campaign finance experts say the use of an opaque company like W Spann to donate large sums of money into a political campaign shows how post-Watergate disclosure laws are now being increasingly circumvented.
Much of this, the experts say, is because of last year's Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case that allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political advocacy, including giving to supposedly "independent" super PACs like Restore Our Future. That ruling also opened the door for newly created nonprofit groups — such as Crossroads GPS, started by Karl Rove — that spent tens of millions of dollars on attack ads during last year's campaign without disclosing any donors.Well ...
The anonymous donor behind the headline-making $1 million contribution to a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC is a former Bain Capital official with long ties to the candidate, who's asking the outside group to amend its filings, POLITICO has learned.
The check-writer is Ed Conard, who was a top official at Bain, the private-equity firm Romney helped create, and who has been a strong supporter of his over the years.
The donation, made to the super PAC "Restore Our Future" - which was founded by former Romney advisers and is able to take in unlimited contributions, but must report them to the FEC - showed up in the group's first round of filings. It was listed as coming from a W Spann LLC.
In a statement to POLITICO, Conard said, "I am the individual who formed and funded W Spann LLC. I authorized W Spann LLC’s contribution to Restore Our Future PAC.