Donor hide-and-seek

Monday April 30, 2012

The super political action committees unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court's right wing in the infamous Citizens United decision are already corrupting this election season and will assuredly continue to do so in ways that cannot be anticipated. One way that has recently emerged is the hiding of deep-pocketed donors behind obscure LLCs (limited liability companies), further eroding the transparency voters must have to judge who may be seeking influence with candidates.

Three such incidents have come to light involving the super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Restore Our Future. (Can something that hasn't happened yet actually be restored?)

In the most recent incident chronicled by The Boston Globe, Romney fundraisers Gerald and Darlene Jordan contributed $400,000 to the super PAC through an investment fund called Seaspray Partners LLC, apparently out of Boston. However, there also is a Seaspray Partners LLC in Palm Beach, Florida, and Restore Our Future erroneously gave its address to the Federal Election Com mis sion, to the chagrin of top executive Scott DeSano when he became the subject of media inquiries.

"I didn't do anything," protested Mr. DeSano to the Globe's Brian Mooney. "I don't know any of them."

In correcting its error, Restore Our Future acknowledged that the Jordans were the Seaspray donors. A year ago, an LLC called W Spann emerged to donate $1 million to Mr. Romney, then disappeared. A $250,000 donation arrived sometime later from Glenbrook LLC, whose address was that of a California accounting firm. Following press inquiries, Restore Our Future amended its records, the Globe reports, to reveal two individual donors, both of whom have links to Mr. Romney's former firm, Bain Capital.

One would think that if donors hand over six-or seven-figure contributions to a candidate -- Democrat or Republican -- they would do so proudly, not anonymously. If they instead hide behind an LLC, with help from a super PAC, voters should be curious about what they expect from the candidate in return.


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