Super political action committees (PACs) have been barraging residents of early primary states with brutal attack ads for months, and now we get our first look at where their money comes from. Late Tuesday was the financial-disclosure deadline for super PACs, the political organizations that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money in support of candidates to whom they are ostensibly not directly attached. The forms reveal donations of $1 million and more to PACs that often have larger coffers than the official campaigns they support. Here’s a guide to the super PACs’ super donors.
Last summer a company called W Spann LLC donated $1 million to the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, and then dissolved. Adding to the fishiness of the situation, W Spann came into being just months before the donation and was located in the same building as Bain Capital, the investment company Romney launched. As the furor over the mysterious donation grew, Edward Conard came forward as the donor. He’s a former vice president at Bain.
Steven J. Lund
Like W Spann, Eli Publishing and F8 LLC are two companies—both registered at the same Utah address—that appear to do no actual business. Both, however contributed $1 million each to Romney’s PAC. Steven J. Lund appears to be the man behind Eli Publishing, at least. He’s a cofounder and former CEO of Nu Skin Enterprises who contributed to Romney’s effort to bring the Olympics to Salt Lake City.
Mercer, co-chief executive officer of the hedge-fund-management company Renaissance Technologies Corp., gave $1 million to Restore Our Future. He also gave $150,000 to the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Another hedge-fund manager, Paulson gave $1 million to Restore Our Future. Paulson, the founder of Paulson & Company, was infamously successful at betting against subprime mortgages during the housing crisis.
Yet another hedge fund manager, Robertson gave $1 million to Restore Our Future. He founded Tiger Management, which he shut down in 2000, and now invests in several other hedge funds. He also shorted the subprime market.
Perry, a Houston-based homebuilder, has bankrolled conservative causes for years. In 2004, he was the prime financer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2010 he gave over $7 million to American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s group. So far he’s given $1 million to Restore Our Future.
Paul Singer is another major backer of conservative causes. He’s the founder of Elliot Management, a $17 billion hedge fund, and the chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. In 2007, he was a major bundler for Rudy Giuliani’s campaign. This year he held out for Chris Christie to enter the race, but came out in support for Romney once Christie declined to run. He gave $1 million to Romney’s PAC. This summer, he sent a letter to investors calling the Federal Reserve a “group of inbred academics.”
Melaleuca, an Idaho-based company that sells environmentally friendly home and health products, donated $1 million to Restore Our Future through four affiliated companies.
Rooney Holdings Inc.
Rooney Holdings is a private investment firm operated by Francis Rooney, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Rooney, who gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, frequently funds Republican candidates.
Simmons, who owns a private holding company called the Contran Corporation, gave $1 million to Rick Perry’s PAC, Make Us Great Again. Forbes estimates the Dallas tycoon’s wealth at just over $9 billion. He frequently puts that money toward political races in Texas, and is often rewarded for it—most recently with permission to build a radioactive waste-disposal site.
Jon M. Huntsman Sr.
Almost all the money for Jon Huntsman’s super PAC, Our Destiny, came from his dad, Jon M. Huntsman Sr. The senior Huntsman is the executive chairman of the Huntsman Corp., a chemical company. He gave $1.9 million of Our Future’s $2.7 million.
Newt Gingrich has made it this far in the race largely thanks to two massive donations from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson. Their donation—reportedly totaling $10 million—came after the current reporting period, but their daughter, Sivan Ochshorn, gave Gingrich’s Winning Our Future PAC half a million dollars.
President Obama’s super PAC, Priorities USA Action, has been languishing compared to those of his possible rivals. It has, however, received a $2 million donation from Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks animation. Katzenberg is a longtime Democratic donor and a major Obama bundler.
Service Employees International Union
The other major donation to Priorities USA came from the Service Employees International Union, one of Obama’s largest funders during the 2008 election, and spent nearly $15.8 million on political ads during the 2010 election, mostly in favor of Democrats. The SEIU, which represents about 2 million workers, gave $1 million.