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Our political system just got even worse

A mystery corporation was formed in March. Six weeks later it made a $1 million donation to the campaign of Mitt Romney, through Romney’s Super PAC called “Restore Our Future”. The corporation was then dissolved on July 12.

There are no public records giving any hint of who owned the corporation. There is no address, or even a hint of what kind of business it was in. Not only that, but Restore Our Future, which is required to report large donations, disclosed the million dollar donation two weeks after the mystery corporation was dissolved. The lawyers who handled the creation and dissolution of the mystery corporation refused to discuss anything about it. And just to add a bit more irony to the whole affair, Restore Our Future lists the address of the donor corporation as a midtown Manhattan office building, but that building has no record of any such tenant.

All of this is perfectly legal and above board, thanks to our lovely Supreme Court who declared corporations (even mystery ones) people who can exercise their free speech rights by donating huge amounts of money to political campaigns.

Indeed, Restore Our Future’s campaign treasurer’s response to inquiries about the mystery donation was “Restore Our Future has fully complied with, and will continue to comply with, all FEC disclosure requirements.” Furthermore, the Romney campaign isn’t required to say anything about the large contribution because Restore Our Future is an “independent entity”, even though the Super PAC’s sole purpose is to get Mitt Romney elected, and Romney himself spoke at a private dinner for Restore Our Future donors. Restore Our Future raised $12.2 million during the first six months of 2011, much of which came from individual donations of over $1 million.

So, not only can corporations donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, but ghost corporations can be created at will with the sole purpose of hiding from where these huge donations come. Lawrence Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission says “What you have here is a roadmap for how people can hide their identities” when making political contributions. These donations could be coming from Al Qaeda, Qaddafi, Iran, or even North Korea for all we know, because there is no way to know.

The Supreme Court has legalized bribery on a massive scale and with complete secrecy. Our democracy is doomed.



  1. Richard wrote:

    Sounds like you ought to produce a Frontline episode with this. I hope someone attempts to out him, even if it’s legal, it’s not ethical and someone could put it to him publicly in a debate to get him lying about it publicly.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink
  2. David Freeman wrote:

    “Edward W. Conard, who was for years associated with Bain Capital, the huge investment firm that Romney once headed, was the figure behind an obscure company called “W Spann LLC” that was listed as donating $1 million to the group last spring.” – Michael Isikoff

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    David – Just what I suspected. What is utterly stunning is that the five members of the Supreme Court who made the decision in Citizens United either did not see this coming or did not think it was important.

    Noble’s comment does come across as a bit of hyperbole. It would have sufficed to say that under the current system and with the Citizens United decision, foreign corporations and individuals would be able to donate money to political campaigns in violation of US law. It would not matter if it was Al Qaeda or Hugo Chavez or Desmond Tutu.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink
  4. Dan wrote:

    Why does anyone think this is “special?”

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  5. Dan wrote:

    We can resort to what FDR tried when the New Deal was being shot down by the courts. When a Justice turns 75 the President can nominate an additional Justice. That would give us 3 more right now, and it is Constitutional.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  6. No u wrote:

    Why did the supreme court do this and not congress?

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  7. Have you ever played Shadowrun? Apart from the magical dragons and mystic adept elf street samurai, I think it predicts a very accurate depiction of the future.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    David, the fact that the mystery donor revealed himself doesn’t change a thing. That doesn’t stop other people from doing the same thing. Besides, on what basis would you believe him?

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  9. David Freeman wrote:

    Jeez, IK, it never occurred to me that Conard stepped up to coverup for Bain Capital or something even more sinister! Perhaps it was actually Kim Jung Il, or even worse Rupert Murdoch, or (shudder) Calvin

    Seriously though, I’m too damn naive!

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Seriously, we could have political campaigns flooded with money from Tigers! Or even worse, philosophers!

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  11. Arthanyel wrote:

    @ChinaGreenElvis LOL – I ran a Shadowrun campaign for years. And I disagree – that future is far more appealing than reality. I think BladeRunner is more accurate projection from the actions in Washington right now – or The Postman.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink
  12. Patricia wrote:

    Arthanyel: I was struck years ago by what the movie Bladerunner portrayed as our societal future — but that possible future seemed to have slipped by most people’s notice. In an unscientific survey, I have concluded that this one lack of vision event caused the current political lack of vision — ha — ha — ha! O.K. it’s not funny (irony!)

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  13. Bert wrote:

    Why not Bladerunner, we’ve had doublespeek for years.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink