Two campaign watchdog groups on Friday asked the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission to investigate a company that donated $1 million to a political action committee backing Mitt Romney and abruptly dissolved weeks later.
The company, W Spann LLC, was formed in March by Boston lawyer Cameron Casey, according to documents obtained by NBC. In April, the company made a million-dollar donation to Restore Our Future super PAC, an independent committee started by former Romney aides. In July, two weeks before Restore Our Future made its first campaign filing of the year, W Spann filed a "certificate of cancellation" and dissolved as a corporate entity.
The company "appears to have been created ... for no other purpose than to hide the identity of the individual or individuals or corporations seeking to curry favor" with Romney, the Campaign Legal center said in a statement.
“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 the Citizens Uniteddecision,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer in a statement. “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."
Beyond the pro-Romney donation, almost nothing is known about W Spann; neither corporate records nor filing documents provided information about the firm’s owners, location, address, or types of business. Restore Our Future's campaign finance report listed a Manhattan address for W Spann LLC, but the building has no record of such a tenant, NBC reported.
Restore Our Future, the Romney campaign, Cameron Casey, and the Boston firm that employs Casey would not comment on the company or its six-figure donation.
“I don’t see how you can do this,” Lawrence Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, told NBC. If the company was formed merely to funnel money into Romney’s campaign, it could raise “serious” legal issues, Noble said. Either way, “what you have here is a road map for how people can hide their identities” when making political contributions.
In its July FEC filing, Restore Our Future disclosed that it had received $12.2 million during the first six months of 2011.