WASHINGTON -- Revere America is one of the biggest outside spenders this election season, dropping $2.5 million so far in an effort to "repeal, reform and replace ObamaCare" and elect Republicans who believe in that cause. While it is a politically active nonprofit and therefore not required to disclose its donors, one of its major funders appears to be a Florida real estate developer.
What's interesting about the involvement of this developer and major Republican donor, Parker Collier, is that her business interests lie in Florida, but Revere America is especially active in the Northeast, particularly in New York and New Hampshire House races. In the latter state, Revere America has spent $1.4 million opposing progressive Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington -- which has been doing extensive research into Revere America and other independent expenditure groups on both sides of the aisle -- wondered whether there are political motivations behind Revere America and Collier's focus on certain states and races. Indeed, Pataki has taken a particularly high-profile role in the group, compared to other outside spending organizations that are often faceless.
"It seems possible -- though it is speculative really -- that Pataki's interested in running for president in 2012, and so this might be useful to him there," she said. "She [Collier] definitely seems to be focusing on the Northeast, and maybe it's because she thinks she can win there, but certainly Pataki's a creature of the Northeast. New Hampshire's an early presidential state obviously. So it does seem to me to be at least in part because of her relationship with Pataki."
Since Revere America isn't required to disclose its donors, it's unknown whether Collier is definitely a funder. But the activities and make-up of the group indicate that she likely is, although the group refuses to confirm.
"Revere America has over one million supporters and literally hundreds of generous donors from around the country," said Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo in a statement to The Huffington Post. "The organization is compliant with all FEC disclosure requirements of a 510C-4. Governor Pataki's focus is clear -- to advance Revere's mission and build the policy majorities in Washington that will support common sense public policies rooted in our traditions of freedom and free markets."
Revere America grew out of another health care nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Health Care (ARHC). According to ARHC's most recent FEC filing, Collier was the sole donor to the organization in 2010 -- making it another one-person funded group that essentially allows wealthy contributors to skirt individual contribution limits.
At least two of Revere America's directors are tightly linked to the Colliers. Michael Lenzner is the CEO of the Collier Family Office, according to his Facebook profile. Marianne Zuk, president of Revere America, is listed as an officer or director of several other Collier companies in Florida incorporation records.
Collier and her husband Miles also hosted a Revere America reception at the Collier Automotive Club Museum in Naples, Fla. on May 5, 2010.
On Thursday, Revere America announced that it had collected 1 million signatures for its petition to repeal health care reform. "The American people have made their concern known over this law, and they will deliver a clear message on Nov. 2," Pataki said in a statement. "Americans feel like they have been handed an unworkable system they neither trust nor understand."
The Hill notes that one of Revere America's other initiatives hasn't been quite so successful. Just two GOP incumbents have signed onto the group's pledge, even though it was endorsed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
In the Shea-Porter race, Revere America is one of the top spenders, second only to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the amount of money spent. In the Kuster election, Revere America is the third-highest spender (after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the American Action Network).
In New York, Revere America has invested heavily in opposing the re-election bids of Democratic Reps. John Hall and Bill Owens. Revere America is expanding its efforts with a direct mail push affecting nearly 100 House races and several Senate races.
Sloan believes that the public should know who is being every single one of the independent expenditures.
"I think Americans should understand who's behind political ads so they can put them in context and judge them accordingly," she said. "I think folks watching ads in the Northeast might wonder, 'Wow, what is this Florida's developer's interest in this? Why is a Florida developer spending this money here? And so how much weight should we give that? She's not from here. What does she know about our issues?'"
New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has launched a high-profile challenge to Pataki, calling on a former governor to reveal Revere America is getting its money. This week, his office launched an online campaign for people to pressure Pataki.
"As Governor, George Pataki defended our democracy, now he's undermining it," said de Blasio. "Revere America is funneling millions of dollars into our elections, all while hiding any corporate contributions from the public eye. If Governor Pataki refuses to reveal the sources of his funding, he should at minimum be willing to participate in a public debate so he can explain why he is keeping shareholders, consumers and the New Yorkers he used to serve in the dark."
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