CLC Complaint Alleges Shadowy Campaign Contributions by Entity Supporting Texas Democrat

Hands behind translucent glass passing a stack of money from one to the other

On May 12, 2021, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against a mysterious entity, Tomfoolery, LLC, which gave $75,000 to a Texas-based super PAC entirely focused on supporting Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, an unsuccessful candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Texas.

Lone Star Forward, a Texas-based independent expenditure-only committee, otherwise known as a super PAC, formed in January 2020 and spent more than $255,000 in the 2020 election cycle supporting Ms. Ramirez’s unsuccessful Senate candidacy.

The super political action committee (PAC) reported receiving $75,000—more than a quarter of its total financing in 2020—from a “Tomfoolery, LLC” that listed its address as a 60-floor skyscraper in New York City.

But “Tomfoolery, LLC” does not appear to actually exist.

There is no “Tomfoolery, LLC” at the address provided, or anywhere in New York City. There are three entities named “Tomfoolery, LLC” in the United States, but none can be identified as the “Tomfoolery, LLC” that appeared on Lone Star Forward’s report.

And even if one of those LLCs had been used to contribute to the super PAC, there is reason to believe the funding actually came from another source, since none of those LLCs appears to have had the resources to cover $75,000 in super PAC contributions.

All publicly available evidence thus suggests that unknown contributors violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by making $75,000 in contributions to Lone Star Forward in the name of “Tomfoolery, LLC” rather than in their own names.

Complaint Underscores Need for LLC Donor Transparency

Transparency around who is spending money to support or oppose federal candidates is a cornerstone of FECA and critical to our democracy.

But when a super PAC or other political group reports receiving a contribution from a corporate LLC that lacks a public footprint—like Tomfoolery, LLC—it is difficult or impossible to uncover who directed or provided the funds and know what interests those true funders might represent.

As a consequence, voters are kept in the dark about the true sources of the money spent to influence elections.

By failing to identify the donors responsible for its political contributions, Tomfoolery, LLC has denied CLC and the American people important information about who funded its political donations. On this basis alone, the FEC should act to hold Tomfoolery, LLC and its contributors responsible.

At the same time, though, Congress should act to close the legal loophole that has allowed LLCs making political contributions to get away with hiding who is really behind them. The For the People Act, H.R. 1/S. 1, will do just that, requiring LLCs and other corporations—like Tomfoolery, LLC—to publicly disclose their beneficial owners if they spend money in elections. 

In this way, we can guarantee voters’ right to know which wealthy special interests are spending money to influence our vote.

Alexandra Copper is a Legal Counsel at CLC.
Closing Dark Money and Donor Disclosure Loopholes