FEC: Complaint Filed Against Apparent “Straw Company” that Gave $1 million to Romney-linked “Super PAC”


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, with Democracy 21, will urge the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate possible violations of campaign finance law by a company that appears to have been created for the purpose of funneling $1 million to a Super PAC operated by former Mitt Romney campaign staffers.

The complaint to the FEC and letter to DOJ ask the agencies to formally investigate the activities of the W Spann LLC for possible violations of the ban on making contributions in the name of another and for failing to organize and register as a political committee.  The activities outlined in media reports paint a picture of a corporation created for no other purpose than to hide the identity of the individual or individuals or corporations seeking to curry favor with a candidate seeking election to the highest office in the land.

“This case deserves a good hard look from the agencies charged with enforcing our nation’s election laws and if violations are found they must be prosecuted vigorously to deter such violations in the future – otherwise ‘straw companies’ will make a mockery of campaign finance disclosure and the specter of foreign campaign contributions will hang over the process,” said Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director at the Campaign Legal Center, which took the lead in drafting the FEC complaint and letter to the Justice Department.  “The case should serve as yet another wake up call for Congress to shore up our woefully inadequate disclosure laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision before still more scandals emerge, further undermining the country’s faith in representative democracy.”

“If the FEC remains unwilling to enforce the nation’s election laws, we hope the Department of Justice will take up the slack as it did with Pierce O’Donnell, a case resolved yesterday when O’Donnell agreed to serve six months in jail for making ‘straw donor’ contributions to the presidential campaign of John Edwards,” said Ryan.  The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 participated as “friends of the court” in the O’Donnell lawsuit urging prosecution.

“This case involves a stark example of the secret money we can expect to see poured into the 2012 presidential and congressional races in the wake of theCitizens United decision,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer.  “In this case, it appears that someone has gone to great lengths to evade the campaign finance disclosure laws in order to hide what they are doing from the American people.  This is unacceptable and potentially illegal conduct and we are calling for an investigation of possible campaign finance violations by the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department,” Wertheimer said.

“If the three Republican Commissioners on the six-member FEC, however, continue to keep blocking enforcement of the campaign finance laws, as they have consistently done, the American people face widespread blatant evasion, circumvention and violation of the campaign finance laws in the 2012 elections,” Wertheimer said.

To read the FEC complaint, click here.  To read the letter to the Department of Justice, click here.