Super PAC donors may keep opening wallets, but public may not see it
July 19th, 2012
09:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Super PAC donors may keep opening wallets, but public may not see it

Washington (CNN) - When the super PAC backing Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, files its June donation report on Friday with the Federal Election Commission, it is expected to show a six-figure contribution from Wyoming businessman Foster Friess, his first to the group.

But an unwelcome scrutiny came to Friess, Nevada billionaire Sheldon Adelson and some of the other wealthy donors to these super PACs, and some are planning for much of their future generosity to be behind a cloak of anonymity.

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Friess said he has decided his financial donations in the future will mostly be to groups that do not have to disclose their donors. He said he is planning on contributing to five or six so-called 501(c)(4) groups named after the section of the tax code they are organized under. These are nonprofit organizations that can advocate on behalf of social welfare causes or to further the community. He refused to discuss which groups, but did say one recipient could be an affiliate of American Crossroads, the group founded by Karl Rove.

Another major donor who has felt the wrath because of his political contributions this year is Adelson, who is considering making at least some of his future contributions to groups that aren't required to reveal the names of their contributors, sources have told CNN.

Adelson, along with his wife, gave $20 million to the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, Winning Our Future, and those donations caused controversy. The couple last month made its first donation to Restore Our Future.

Their $10 million contribution will be reported on the Friday report, sources previously told CNN. Adelson is now considering requests by several major GOP activists, such as David and Charles Koch and leaders of Crossroads GPS, to commit as much as $10 million to them, sources have said. The groups operated by the Koch brothers and Crossroads, an arm of American Crossroads, aren't legally required to disclose donors' names.

Friess, owner of an investment management firm, was a major reason Rick Santorum could stay alive during the primary season and was one of the largest contributors to the super PAC that supported the former Pennsylvania senator, the Red, White and Blue Fund, by giving it $2.1 million.

The 72-year-old multimillionaire is a long-time backer of various conservative and religious causes and is now fully backing Romney, saying the presumptive Republican nominee is the best hope for helping fix the country's economy.

Friess said he felt burned by the publicity his work for Santorum generated.

"I was kind of shocked to see the notoriety, the high profile I got. I didn't know if I needed that," he told CNN in a phone interview. "People looked at me as a villain."

He said wealthy donors like him were portrayed in the media as having too much influence. He sees his role as giving back.

"This American free enterprise (system) … has been very good" to him, he said. "I want to do everything to sustain it for future generations."

He refused to divulge the exact amount of his June donation to Restore Our Future and added he was not planning on any future contributions to it, but didn't rule them out.
Friess said he has made fund-raising calls on Romney's behalf and will do more of them, although he declined to provide a number.

He also said he and his wife have donated as much as they can to the Romney Victory Fund, the joint Romney-Republican National Committee fund-raising initiative.

"We have maxed out to everyone," he said.

He was on the host committee for the recent fund-raiser Romney attended in Wyoming. Friess could not attend because of a prior out-of-town commitment, but his wife and family did.

Not only does he want to do all he can to help Romney get elected, but he said he also will make sure his work helps Republicans in close Senate races, particularly those in Ohio and Nevada, because control of Congress could be up for grabs. He donated money to support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during his recall election.

"I am committed to making sure we have a country which honors the investments and sacrifices prior generations have made to liberty," he said.

Filed under: 2012 • American Crossroads • Fundraising • Mitt Romney
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. 2hheels2

    It is time that we get america back. These guys a buying our democracy. We don't care it was made legal it is not good for America. This will in every way ruin this country

    July 19, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. Larry L

    History will remember the U.S. Supreme Court as having inflicted the greatest wound towards the death of our democracy. The conservatives on the Court are responsiblie for selling our government to it's new corporate masters.

    July 19, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. AJ

    These undisclosed billionaires want to pick up where they left off with Bush, more pollution, unregulated banks, and more tax breaks for the (winkwink) job creators.

    July 19, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. TM

    He just wants the best government money can buy. And what is so wrong about a government that can be bought? And think of all the time and effort that can be saved. Candidates don't have to worry about calling thousands of regular people and asking for donations. Now they can call on a few dozen and be fully funded in a matter of days. While we're at it, why not just go all the way and do away with voting altogether? These super rich individuals obviously know what's best for all of us. RIght?

    July 20, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  5. WeR4Freedom

    Romney 2012/2016. Enough said!

    July 20, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  6. John Tighe

    Do you think that Romney doesn't want to release his returns because if he did...his church might realize that he hasn't been giving them 10% after all????

    July 20, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  7. Chris

    So according to the GOP its absolutely essential that everyone show an official ID to vote, but those spending millions to influence an election should have complete anonymity?

    July 20, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  8. Marie MD

    Funny, not that we wouldn't see any of that money anyway. After all all those millionaires and billionaires are supposed to be creating those jobs we just don't see so keep giving them tax breaks!

    July 20, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    What obama needs to do in second term is sign campaign finance reform, senate and congress term limits, anti-lobby laws.

    July 20, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    We need full disclosure of all money spent on political campaigns and super PACs as well as these so call social welfare organizations. If it is connected to a piece of legislation or during a campaign period, then it should be considered a poltical PAC and be required to disclosed all donors.

    July 20, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  11. ron

    Don't worry, fellas. After the republicans voted down the disclosure bill the Supreme Court will act on the next challenge to Citizens United. More than they want to be in the pockets of rich people, they do not want to be remembered as the worst SCOTUS ever. Your names will come out: what is done in the dark shall come into the light!

    July 20, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  12. tv22

    Why no mention of the Democratic PACs?

    July 20, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  13. curious

    Americas need to know the names of the 13 rich old white men who believes they own this country.

    July 20, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  14. Yonni

    Thank you Supreme Court not. Now we the people cannot afford to buy our own government only “you people” can.

    July 20, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. Expat American

    I think only 5 or 6 people are actually donating to the Romney 'Above You People' campaign.

    July 20, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |