Mystery Money for Romney

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 4 2011 9:52 AM

Mystery Money for Romney

When a $1 million donation from W Spann LLC appeared in the coffers of the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future, no one knew what it meant. What was W Spann LLC?

Michael Isikoff finds the answer, sort of. It was a company founded on March 15, which donated to the PAC on April 28, and dissolved on July 12. No one remembers the company existing at the address it listed on the filing.

The “authorized person” that filed the W Spann LLC incorporation papers and then canceled them was [Cameron] Casey, the Boston estate tax planner lawyer, who specializes in “wealth transfer strategies” as an associate in Ropes & Gray’s Private Client Group’s trust and estate practice for high end clients, according to her biography on the Ropes & Gray’s website.
One of the Rope & Gray’s longtime clients is Bain Capital, the investment firm formerly headed by Romney. It is also one of a number of major companies — including UBS, IBM and Cemex — that have offices at 590 Madison, the address listed for W Spann.
Asked about W Spann, Alex Stanton, a spokesman for Bain Capital said, in an email: “Bain Capital has many employees who actively participate in civic affairs, and they individually support candidates from both parties. The firm takes no position on any candidate, and the entity in question is not affiliated with Bain Capital or any of our employees.”
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It's this kind of stuff that complicates the "money is speech" argument. If you're being incredibly charitable about it, maybe you can compare this to John Jay writing an essay under a pen name to influence the debate over whether or not New York should approve the Constitution. Boy, that felt stupid even as I wrote it. It's nothing like that -- it's laundering money and hoping no one asks questions about it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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