In June 2012, Ohio’s American Dream Fund LLC made a $250,000 contribution to the Advancing Freedom Action Network super PAC, which supported the re-election of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R).
This isn’t an unusual scenario; 2010’s Citizens United decision allows corporations to spend unlimited money on political expenditures, as long as they stay independent from candidate campaigns and party committees.
What is unusual is that no one knows who is actually behind American Dream Fund. It was created by a firm called CT Corporation System (CTCS), and its listed agents are hired incorporators working for CTCS.
Even the contribution itself in usual. According to the Huffington Post,
“Advancing Freedom Action Network, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission in August 2012 by Husted ally Kevin DeWine, failed to file reports electronically, as required by law. The American Dream Fund contribution appeared only on a paper report, where it was apparently missed by the [Federal Election Committee] staff and automated software. It is not noted on the FEC’s webpage for the super PAC or in other campaign contribution databases across the Internet.
DeWine did not respond to a request for comment.”
While it would be illegal for a person to make up a pseudonym and donate millions to political campaigns, the same is not true for corporations.
During the 2012 presidential election, W Spann LLC donated $1 million to the Restore Our Future super PAC to support Mitt Romney’s campaign. The donation was made just six weeks after the LLC’s creation. W Spann was formed, and then dissolved mere months after making the contribution to Restore Our Future, by Boston lawyer Cameron Casey, who focuses on estate tax planning for the wealthy. Casey works for Rope & Gray, whose clients include Bain Capital, the investment firm once headed by Romney.
At the time, Lawrence Noble, the former general counsel of the FEC said he didn’t see how this was legal. “There is a real issue of it just being a subterfuge,” he said, and, even if that wasn’t the case, “what you have here is a roadmap for people to hide their identities” when making political contributions.
During this year’s election cycle, 40 super PACs have received $50,000 or more from corporations. Most of these PACs only support one candidate or elected official. Advancing Freedom Action Network receives almost 92 percent of its funding from corporate backers. Only five PACs receive a larger percentage from corporations, including the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Action Network.
These corporations that miraculously pop up and then immediately donate to campaigns make it even harder to follow the money trail and show just how flawed America’s campaign finance structure really is. Citizens United opened this door, and corporations were more than happy to walk right through it.