Super PAC Power: The 0.1% Buying Our Elections

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Common Dreams

Super PAC Power: The 0.1% Buying Our Elections

FEC disclosures yesterday show wealthy donors, corporations behind Super PAC money

by
Common Dreams staff

Super PACS, made possible following the outcomes of two court decisions in 2010 -- the Citizens United v. FEC decision and the SpeechNow.org v. FEC decision, can take unlimited donations from individuals, corporations, associations and unions.

As the disclosures to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) late last night show, not only have millions been flowing to these Super PACs, the disclosures show these are clearly donations from the "0.1%" -- corporations and individuals donating tens of thousands, one hundred thousand, even donations of millions of dollars.

Mitt Romney's Super PAC Restore Our Future shows around 60 donations of $100,000 or more, with a total of around $17.9 million for the last six months of 2011.

An NBC/MSNBC report adds:

The Romney Super PAC collected seven $1 million donations, including one from Paul Singer, the billionaire and secretive head of the Elliott Management hedge fund, and two others from hedge fund kingpins Julian Robertson of Tiger Management and Robert Mercer of Rennaissance Technologies.

Others accounting for $1 million donations included Florida energy executive Bill Koch of Oxbow Carbon, who has also been a fundraiser for Romney's presidential campaign; Miguel Fernandez, who chairs a Miami private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners; and Rooney Holdings of Tulsa Oklahoma.

Also giving a total of $1 million were firms headed by Frank L. VanderSloot of Idaho. He is also the co-chair of Romney's Idaho finance operation. His firms, operating under the names Melaleuca Inc., Melaleuca of Asia Ltd. Co., Melaleuca of Japan Inc., Melaleuca of Southeast Asia Inc., gave a total of $250,000. The company sells Nicole Miller Timeless Age Defying Serum and other home "wellness" remedies. Forbes magazine has a profile of VanderSloot here.

Three executives of Bain Capital, the private equity firm formerly headed by Romney, gave a total of $625,000.

Romney has insisted he is not involved in the Super PAC and has no control over its ad buys or messages. But further evidence that the group is working closely with Romney's interests came Tuesday night when Restore Our Future held back its required filing with the Federal Election Commission until after Romney had given his victory speech in the Florida primary.

Speaking to Chris Matthews last night on Hardball, NBC investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff talked about the influence of big-money donors on Romney's Super PAC:

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Reuters adds details on Newt Gingrich's Super PAC, Winning Our Future:

Total raised as of December 31: $2.1 million

* Sheldon Adelson - billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate who built the Venetian hotel and casino. Donation: $5 million (not reflected in the PAC's fundraising filing on Tuesday because the donation was made in January, after the December 31 cutoff for the FEC reporting period)

* Miriam Adelson - doctor, wife of Sheldon Adelson. Donation: $5 million (also made in January )

* William Propst - real estate investor in Huntsville, Alabama. Donation: $500,000

* Harold Simmons - billionaire Dallas banker and pioneer of leverage buyouts, chairman and CEO of Contran Corp. Initially supported Texas Governor Rick Perry. Donation: $500,000 * Sivan Ochshorn - step-daughter of Sheldon Adelson. Donation: $500,000

* Yasmin Lukatz - casino executive in Las Vegas and step-daughter of Sheldon Adelson. Donation: $250,000

Despite these disclosures to the FEC, there remains mystery behind the non-profit arms of those super PACS.

WBUR Boston reports:

But what’s behind the headlines is the money the non-profit arms of those super PACS are raking in, such as Crossroads GPS, part of Karl Rove’s super PAC “American Crossroads.”

It’s out with a new ad Wednesday, attacking the Obama administration’s financial backing of now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra.

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS disclosed that they raised $51 million dollars last year, but because it’s a tax-exempt 501(c)4 group, “Crossroads GPS” does not have to disclose its donors.

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