Watchdog groups ask for probe of super PAC donations
Washington • Two campaign-finance watchdog groups Thursday asked federal authorities to investigate $12 million donated to a tea party-affiliated super PAC from two companies created less than two months before Election Day.
The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 said the companies' donations to FreedomWorks for America may have violated a law that prohibits making contributions "in the name of another person" and called on the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate.
FreedomWorks spokeswoman Jacqueline Bodnar did not respond to an email and telephone call seeking comment.
A $10.6 million contribution from one of the companies, Specialty Group Inc., was the single-largest corporate donation of the 2012 election. The other company, Kingston Pike Development LLC, donated $1.5 million to FreedomWorks. William Rose, a Knoxville, Tenn., attorney, created both companies in late September.
Attempts to reach Rose via phone and email were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon. In a statement issued before Election Day he described Specialty Group as a real-estate investment company and called the nature of its business a "family secret."
"These companies appear to have been created to hide the identities of one or more donors that pumped millions of dollars into a super PAC anonymously in the final weeks before an election," Paul Ryan, the Campaign Legal Center's senior counsel, said in a statement. "If these laws are not enforced and donors are allowed to contribute millions of dollars to super PACs in the name of straw companies, not only will campaign-finance disclosure laws be rendered useless, but the door will be left wide open to the possibility of foreign campaign contributions helping determine election outcomes in the United States."
The contributions from the Tennessee companies accounted for more than half the $20 million FreedomWorks spent to influence congressional races in this election cycle, federal records show.