A.B. in the News

NBC News: Justice Asked To Probe Mystery Donation To Pro-Romney Group

On August 4, 2011, NBC News reported:

Two campaign reform groups are asking the Justice Department to investigate a mysterious $1 million contribution to a political committee backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney from an obscure company that shut down shortly after making the donation.

The contribution to Restore Our Future, a so-called “super PAC” formed by three former Romney political aides, drew scrutiny following an NBC News report on Thursday . The firm that gave the money, called W Spann LLC, was formed in March – with no listed officers or directors — made the contribution in April, then dissolved itself in July, according to corporate records.

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It is illegal under federal law for political donors to make contributions in the name of another person – so called “straw donors” —  and such violations have been vigorously prosecuted by the Justice Department in the past, according to campaign finance experts.

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Corporate records show that the person who registered the company in Delaware was Cameron Casey, an associate with the venerable Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray, who specializes in estate tax planning for “high net worth individuals.”

A Democratic political advocacy group, American Bridge, emailed a memo to reporters Thursday pointing out multiple connections between Romney and the law firm, including the fact that Ropes & Gray represented him in a challenge to his residency status when he first ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and that one of the firm’s partners, R. Bradford Malt, was trustee of Romney’s blind trust when he ran for president in 2008.

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