Chalk up a small mystery being solved. This week, in the midst of all the debt ceiling rangeling and fall out there was a little bit of odd news. It came out that Mitt Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, had received a donation of $1 million dollars.
In the era of Citizens United (thank you very, very much conservative Justices) that in and of itself is not that surprising. What was surprising is that it came from a company which then promptly folded.
The company, W Spann LLC, was apparently a complete shell. It never made or sold anything and as far as the records can tell only ever had the lawyer who incorporated it as an employee.
As the news of this came out there have been justifiable shouts of anger and outrage. As well as calls for investigations. It was probably the latter which forced the anonymous donor to come forward.
Talking Points Memo is reporting that the person who gave $1 million dollars to the Super PAC was Ed Conrad, who was a former executive of Bain Capital. That, of course, is the company that Romney co-founded. Here is what Mr. Conrad had to say:
“I am the individual who formed and funded W Spann LLC,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Did Mr. Conrad get bad advice from his “prominent legal counsel”? He very well may have. There are laws on the books which prevent donors from giving money to someone so they can donate without being known. If setting up a shell company for the explicit purpose of donating and then folding doesn’t qualify, I don’t know what does.
I don’t think that we have seen the end of this, but for now we do have a name to go with the gigantic pile of cash that went to Restore Our Future (if the future is unwritten, how can it be restored?). The questions that should follow up next are:
If Mr. Conrad is willing to have his name on the money now, why go through all of this?
Who is the legal counsel? Are they involved with the Romney campaign? (That would be a great big hairy no no!)
Are there other donations that are smaller but also funneled through dummy companies?
Let’s hope someone asks and gets answers to these questions. The whole Citizens United debacle is only going to grow. Contrary to what the Justices said in their opinion, there is nothing that would stop a foreign company or government from using this exact same tactic (though less obviously and less clumsily) to funnel lots and lots of cash to their preferred candidate.
What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.