On Friday night, Ed Conard put an end to a mystery that had been growing in political circles when he sent a statement to Politico identifying himself as the person behind a $1 million contribution to a “super PAC” that backs Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency. “I am the individual who formed and funded W Spann LLC. I authorized W Spann LLC’s contribution to Restore Our Future PAC.”
The donation made headlines because it just looked so fishy. On Thursday, NBC’s Michael Isikoff wrote that the “mystery company” that gave $1 million to a political committee backing Mitt Romney only existed for a few months. At the time, Isikoff said that the donation “provides a vivid example of how secret campaign cash is being funneled in ever more circuitous ways into the political system.”
Conard said he asked Restore Our Future to amend its records to disclose him as the donor, and the PAC’s spokeswoman issued a statement saying it would do so. Conard was a top official at Bain Capital, which was cofounded by Romney. He had listed the company’s location to the same Madison Avenue address as Bain’s, which had raised even more suspicions. But Politico says that while Conard retired from Bain in 2007 he still “maintains an office of his own at that Madison Avenue address.”
The company, W Spann LLC was formed in March, and gave the donation to Restore Our Future, a “super PAC” formed by Romney backers, in April. The company was dissolved July 12. On Friday, Reuters reported that two campaign watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice asking for an investigation. As a “super PAC” Restore Our Future can receive unlimited cash from corporations and individuals but must disclose the name of its donors.
It’s still unclear why Conard tried to make his donation anonymous, but the whole controversy isn’t expected to affect Romney in the long run. “The reality of political campaigns is that where the money in a particular races comes from is of almost no interest to the average voter,” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote.