By Kim Barker, ProPublica, and Rick Young and Emma Schwartz, Frontline Oct. 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
This post was co-published with PBS' Frontline.
The boxes landed in the office of Montana investigators in March 2011.
Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana. They were filled with candidate surveys and mailers that said they were paid for by campaigns, and fliers and bank records from outside spending groups. One folder was labeled "Montana $ Bomb."
The documents pointed to one outside group pulling the candidates' strings: a social welfare nonprofit called Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP.
Altogether, the records added up to possible illegal "coordination" between the nonprofit and candidates for office in 2008 and 2010, said a Montana investigator and a former Federal Election Commission chairman who reviewed the material. Outside groups are allowed to spend money on political campaigns, but not to coordinate with candidates.
"My opinion, for what it's worth, is that WTP was running a lot of these campaigns," said investigator Julie Steab of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, who initially received the boxes from Colorado.
The boxes were examined by Frontline and ProPublica as part of an investigation into the growing influence on elections of dark money groups, tax-exempt organizations that can accept unlimited contributions and do not have to identify their donors. The documents offer a rare glimpse into the world of dark money, showing how Western Tradition Partnership appealed to donors, interacted with candidates and helped shape their election efforts.
Though WTP's spending has been at the state level, it's best-known nationally for bringing a lawsuit that successfully challenged Montana's ban on corporate spending in elections, extending the provisions of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision to all states.
The tax code allows nonprofits like WTP to engage in some political activity, but they are supposed to have social welfare as their primary purpose. As reported previously by ProPublica and Frontline, when WTP applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status, it told the IRS under penalty of perjury that it would not directly or indirectly attempt to influence elections u2014 even though it already had.
The group is now locked in an ongoing dispute with Montana authorities, who ruled in October 2010 that the nonprofit should have registered as a political committee and should have to disclose its donors. WTP sued. A hearing is set for March.
In the meantime, the group has changed its name to American Tradition Partnership, reflecting its larger ambitions. This month, it sent Montana voters a mailer in the form of a newspaper called the Montana Statesman that claimed to be the state's "largest & most trusted news source."
The front page accused the Democratic gubernatorial candidate of being soft on sex offenders.
Donny Ferguson, American Tradition Partnership's spokesman and executive director, did not specifically address the documents found in Colorado or allegations of coordination made against WTP.
"American Tradition Partnership always obeys every letter of every applicable law," he wrote in an emailed response to questions. "ATP does not, and never will, endorse candidates or urge voters to vote for or against candidates. ... These false allegations are old hat."
On its website, the group says its primary purpose is issue advocacy and combating radical environmentalists, whom it sometimes calls "gang green." It describes itself as a grassroots group backed by a broad membership of small donors.
When asked about the documents found in Colorado, Jim Brown, a lawyer for the group, said he was unfamiliar with them.
After being shown some of the documents by Frontline, Brown, in a follow-up email, said his review indicated that they appeared to belong to a company called Direct Mail. Direct Mail and Communications is a print shop in Livingston, Mont., run by a one-time key player in WTP and his wife.
Brown urged Frontline to turn over the documents. "If the documents are purported to be what you say they are, then you may knowingly be in possession of stolen property," Brown wrote.
The records are in the hands of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, which considers them public and reviewable upon request.
* * *
In the anything-goes world of modern campaign finance, outside groups face one major restriction: They are not allowed to coordinate with candidates. That's because contributions to candidates and parties are still capped to limit donors' direct influence, while contributions to outside groups are unlimited.
The Federal Election Commission has a three-pronged test for proving coordination: Did an outside group pay for ads, phone calls or mailers? Did these materials tell people to vote for or against a candidate, or praise or criticize a candidate in the weeks before an election? Finally, did the candidate, or a representative, agree to the expenditure?
Many concerns have been raised about coordination in this election because of close ties between outside groups and campaigns. Super PACs supporting President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are run by their former staffers. Super PACs and campaigns have used the same consultants, who insist in interviews that they have firewalls.
Proving coordination is extremely difficult, however. Since 2007, the FEC has investigated 64 complaints of coordination, but found against candidates and groups only three times, fining them a total of $107,000, a review of FEC enforcement actions shows.
Montana, which has similar rules, also receives few complaints about such activity, Steab said.
The boxes from Colorado contained a mixture of documents from candidates and outside groups.
Folders labeled with the names of Montana candidates held drafts and final letters of support signed by candidates' wives and drafts and final copies of mailers marked as being paid for by the campaigns. The folders often appeared to have had an accounting of what had been sent and paid for scrawled on the front.
Several folders included copies of the signatures of candidates and their wives. "Use this one," someone wrote in red pen next to a cut-out rectangle on a page with five signatures from one candidate.
Steab, the Montana investigator, said she believed these cut-out signatures were then affixed to fliers from the candidates.
Besides material from the campaigns, the boxes also contained mailers on 2008 and 2010 races in Colorado and Montana from Western Tradition Partnership and six other groups. There were bank statements for several groups, including the Coalition for Energy and the Environment, the Alliance of Montana Taxpayers and the Conservative Victory Fund.
In all the documents, one name repeatedly popped up: Christian LeFer. Even though two Montana Republican politicians founded WTP, investigators determined that LeFer was the man behind the scenes.
LeFer, who is described as WTP's director of strategic programming in memos in 2009, said in an email that the documents "appear to be stolen property" and that, as he'd had no access to them, he couldn't respond to most of ProPublica's questions, "which seem to be based on an erroneous and fanciful interpretation of what they mean."
LeFer did not address whether WTP had coordinated with candidates. Although former employees and candidates said LeFer helped his wife run Direct Mail and Communications u2014 the printing company that Brown, the lawyer, suggested was the owner of the boxes of documents found in Colorado u2014 LeFer said he did not "run or direct the activities" there.
Two outside groups with documents in the boxes u2014 the Montana Committee to Protect the Unborn and Montana Citizens for Right to Work u2014 listed their addresses on bank statements as the same post-office box in Livingston used by LeFer and Direct Mail. LeFer was also the executive director of Montana Citizens for Right to Work, an anti-union group.
Former state Rep. Ed Butcher said LeFer and Western Tradition Partnership aided candidates with no experience.
"They'll come in, if candidates want some help, they'll come in and help them," said Butcher, who described LeFer as "a Karl Rove type political strategist" who "stays in the background."
Butcher's file in the Colorado boxes was labeled "Butcher Primary '08 mail samples." It included an email from LeFer to Butcher with a survey about unions. There was a campaign donation form, and drafts of fliers and a letter from Butcher's campaign.
A "wife questionnaire" for Butcher's wife Pam said she met her husband "on a blind date arranged by his buddy that neither of us wanted." The questionnaire listed her children's names and that she had been taking care of her disabled mother for five years.
A letter on pink paper from Pam Butcher was in a file marked "wife letters." The letter, which contained much of the information in the questionnaire, was marked as being paid for by Butcher's campaign.
Butcher said his wife might have run her letter past LeFer. "He may have asked, 'Do you need any help?' and she said, 'Yeah, I need to get this family letter out,'" said Butcher, who won the Republican primary in 2008 by 20 votes.
A folder for another successful candidate, Mike Miller, included a fax cover sheet from Miller to LeFer, forwarding Miller's filled-out Montana candidate surveys for two outside groups, the National Gun Owners Alliance and the National League of Taxpayers. It also held a candidate survey asking Miller if he had any research about his opponent, including "any recent scandals."
Miller confirmed to Frontline that LeFer was an unpaid adviser on his campaign, but would not elaborate further.
Trevor Potter, a former federal election commissioner who now runs the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group that advocates for more restrictions on money in politics, reviewed the documents found in the boxes.
"This is the sort of information that is, in fact, campaign strategy, campaign plans that candidates cannot share with an outside group without making it coordinated," Potter said.
"You need to know more, but certainly if I were back in my FEC days as a commissioner, I would say we had grounds to proceed with an investigation and put people under oath and show them these documents, and ask where they came from and where they were."
* * *
After the 2008 election, Montana started investigating whether WTP should have disclosed its donors.
The inquiry progressed slowly until 2010, when a former WTP contractor handed over internal fundraising records, saying she was worried about what the group was doing.
The documents showed that the group raised money specifically by telling people and corporations that they could give unlimited amounts in secret.
"The only thing we plan on reporting is our success to contributors like you who can see the benefits of a program like this," said one document, a 2010 election briefing to read to potential donors. "You can just sit back on election night and see what a difference you've made."
A target list of potential donors included an executive at a talc mine, the Montana representative of an international mining group and a Colorado executive for a global gold-mining company.
One note about a potential donor advised: "Married rich, hard to get a hold of. Have a beer with him." Another said: "Owns big ranch, signed a hit piece I wrote on cty cmms'r last year (don't mention), should give $$ $10,000 ask."
Other notes suggested that solicitors "See Christian" or "Talk to Christian," apparently references to LeFer.
The documents cited the group's success in 2008, saying in a confidential grassroots membership development proposal that 28 Montana state legislators "rode into office in 100% support of WTP's responsible development agenda."
By 2010, the partnership was active in state races in Montana and Colorado.
That October, Montana authorities said Western Tradition Partnership had violated campaign-finance law and should be fined. They said the group's purpose in 2008 was "not to discuss issues, but to directly influence candidate elections through surreptitious means."
The Montana investigation also said the evidence was overwhelming that WTP had established the Coalition for Energy and the Environment, known as CEE, as a "sham organization" to act as a front for expenditures actually made by WTP.
But the investigation also found that "sufficient evidence has not been disclosed to establish coordination between WTP/CEE and any candidate. Concern and healthy skepticism is warranted, however."
That was before the boxes from Colorado turned up.
A convicted felon named Mark Siebel said he stumbled on them inside a known meth house near Denver at some point in late 2010.
It's not clear how they got there. Siebel said a friend found them in a stolen car. After reading through some of the documents, he reached out to people he thought might be interested in them u2014 primarily Colorado candidates attacked by Western Tradition Partnership. A lawyer married to one of the candidates shipped the boxes off to Montana investigators.
By that time, however, the Montana probe into the group's activities in the 2008 election was over. Steab also said that there was no way to determine for certain where the documents were from and who owned them. There was no whistleblower, and no information about how the records ended up in Colorado.
Despite this, Steab said, she found the documents very telling.
"It looks to me that there was a lot of coordination u2014 but I don't know that it's coordination that everyone is aware of in all cases," she said. She said she spoke to one candidate who told her he was upset about all the negative mailers against his opponent.
This year, American Tradition Partnership is as active as ever. It's suing to try to overturn contribution limits in Montana, so far unsuccessfully. The group sent out mailers attacking candidates before the June primary in Montana, reporting none of them to the state as political expenditures. It later put out a press release saying that 12 of the 14 candidates it backed had won.
For the general election, the group appears to be targeting Montana's attorney general, Steve Bullock, the Democratic candidate for governor. As attorney general, Bullock fought the partnership's lawsuits against the state, including the one that ended up in the Supreme Court.
The first issue of the partnership's Montana Statesman newspaper, dated Oct. 7, which a group press release said was sent to 180,000 voters, featured four photographs on the front page: Three of registered sex offenders, and one of Bullock, accusing him of allowing one in four sex offenders to go unregistered. "Bullock admits failure," the headline announced. A full-page ad accused Bullock of taking illegal corporate contributions and of "criminal hypocrisy."
The Statesman's editor and publisher is none other than Ferguson, the partnership's executive director, described as an "award-winning newspaper veteran" who has been "commended by other newspapers for his 'honest, intelligent and issue-oriented' approach."
Ferguson didn't respond to a question about his journalism credentials.
"Conservative group American Tradition Partnership now one of nation's biggest media outlets," said a press release on the group's website, adding that the newspaper would publish "several" editions through Election Day and into 2013.
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Sheldon Adelson And Family (R)
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Harold And Annette Simmons (R)
Harold Simmons, the octogenarian Dallas businessman, combined with his wife Annette and his company, Contran Corp., to donate $26,765,000 to super PACs. Simmons is listed in <em>Forbes</em> magazine as the 33rd richest person in America with a net worth of $9.3 billion. Simmons and Contran donated $19.5 million to American Crossroads, $2.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $1 million to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry), $1.1 million to Winning Our Future (supporting Newt Gingrich) and $100,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund (formerly Americans for Rick Perry). Annette Simmons gave $1.2 million to Red White And Blue Fund (supporting Rick Santorum). Simmons has also given $1.1 million to Texas Conservatives Fund and $500,000 to Conservative Renewal PAC, both super PACs supporting Senate candidate David Dewhurst. He gave another $50,000 to Strong Utah PAC, $10,000 to Conservatives Action Together and $5,000 to Freedom PAC, which supports Connie Mack for Senate in Florida. Simmons -- who explained that he is contributing money to super PACs to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/harold-simmons-obama_n_1371642.html">stop "that socialist," President Barack Obama</a> -- remains in second place among super PAC donors.
Bob Perry (R)
Texas homebuilder Bob Perry contributed $21,465,000 million to super PACs. Perry is one of the most prolific donors in contemporary political history. He was a major backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the outside group that helped torpedo John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004. Perry's net worth has been estimated at around $650 million. Perry has given $10 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $7.5 million to American Crossroads, $1 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, $1 million to Club for Growth Action, $750,000 to Independence Virginia (supporting George Allen), $500,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), $250,000 to Freedom PAC, $100,000 to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry, who is of no relation) and $15,000 to Maverick PAC.
J. Joseph Ricketts (R)
J. Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade and head of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, has given $12.85 million to super PACs. Ricketts ranked 371 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans in 2009, with a net worth of $1 billion. He has donated $12.25 million to his own super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund. Ricketts has also given $500,000 the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC supporting challengers to incumbent Democrats and Republicans in contested congressional primary elections, and $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Ricketts <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/joe-ricketts-jeremiah-wright-super-pac-ad_n_1525658.html" target="_hplink">became the focus of controversy</a> in May 2012 after the New York Times revealed that he was considering a proposal to fund, through a super PAC, advertisements attacking President Barack Obama with his relationship with his former pastor, the controversial Jeremiah Wright. After the publicity Ricketts and the consultants involved all stated that they were not going forward with the plan.
Fred Eychaner (D)
Fred Eychaner, the Chicago-based media mogul who made his fortune with Newsweb Corp., has given $11.8 million to super PACs. He is a longtime funder of outside groups backing Democrats, having contributed $2 million to so-called 527 groups in the effort to defeat President George W. Bush in 2004. Eychaner is also a noted LGBT activist and has funded efforts to promote equality. Eychaner gave $3.8 to Majority PAC, $3.75 to House Majority PAC, $3.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $500,000 to Women Vote!, $200,000 to America Votes Action Fund and $50,000 to L PAC.
United Auto Workers (D)
The United Auto Workers union has contributed $10,707,000 million to super PACs in 2012. The union has donated $8,309,000 to the UAW Education Fund, $1.1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $800,000 to Majority PAC, $250,000 to House Majority PAC, $208,000 to Working for Us PAC, $83,000 to Working For Us PAC, $25,000 to Defend Our Homes and $15,000 to America Votes Action Fund. (Pictured: Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers.)
National Education Association (D)
The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union representing teachers, contributed $9,707,000 million to super PACs. The union gave $8.279 million to its own super PAC, the NEA Advocacy Fund, $500,000 to Moving Ohio Forward Action Fund, $440,000 to America Votes action Fund, $250,000 to DGA Action, $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century $22,000 to America Votes Action Fund, $10,000 to Credo SuperPAC, $5,000 to Young Democrats of America (hybrid PAC) and $5,000 to the Patriot Majority PAC.
Service Employees International Union (D)
The Service Employees International Union, the nation's fastest growing labor union representing close to 2 million people, contributed $9,435,907 to super PACs. SEIU is one of the most politically active unions in the country. SEIU has given $5,893,039 million to Florida Freedom PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $653,549 to House Majority PAC, $550,000 to Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal, $425,000 to Rethink PAC (opposing Scott Brown), $297,750 to Working For Us PAC, $250,000 to Majority PAC, $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $120,000 to Sierra Club Action, $20,000 to Vote Your Values, $12,919 to Workers' Voice, $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC and $5,000 to Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Republican Governors Association (R)
The Republican Governors Association, a 527 political committee currently headed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, gave $8,305,000 to the super PAC RGA Right Direction. William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.
James Simons (D)
James Simons, the billionaire chairman of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $7.5 million to super PACs. Simons is ranked 30 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $10.5 billion. Simons gave $3.5 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $3 million to Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, and $1 million to House Majority PAC, backing Democratic House candidates.
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of unions, contributed $6,123,437 to super PACs. The federation, boasting 12.2 million members, is made up of 57 national and international labor unions. Its funds come from the dues paid by members. The AFL-CIO gave $5.95 million to its own super PAC, and that super PAC gave $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
Specialty Group (R)
This unknown, unlisted Knoxville, Tennessee company, Specialty Group Inc., made a massive $5.275 million contribution to FreedomWorks for America in early October. (Pictured: FreedomWorks for America, the group supporting by Specialty Group Inc's contribution.)
Robert Rowling And TRT Holdings (R)
Robert Rowling, the Texas billionaire who runs the business holding company TRT Holdings, has contributed $5.135 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Rowling ranks 66 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.7 billion. He gave $5 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $35,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).
American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees (D)
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation's largest public employee union with 1.6 million members, contributed $4,174,085 million to super PACs. AFSCME is very politically active in local and national politics. In 2011, it faced direct attacks in such states as Ohio and Wisconsin, when Republican governors sought to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees. AFSCME gave $1 million to Majority PAC, $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $986,788 to Workers' Voice, $529,630 to Moving Ohio Forward, $415,000 to House Majority PAC, $260,120 to America Votes Action Fund, $250,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $200,000 to Working Families For Hawaii (supporting Mazie Hirono), $125,000 for Iowans for Integrity in Leadership, $100,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman (supporting Howard Berman), $100,000 to Fair Share Action, $50,000 to the American Worker, $50,000 to Sierra Club Action, $50,000 to Ohio Families United, $44,900 to Working For Us PAC, $42,500 to Defend Our Homes, $25,000 to Women Vote!, $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC and $5,000 to Young Democrats for America.
Peter Thiel (R)
Peter Thiel, the hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, has contributed $4.73 million to super PACs. Thiel, a radical libertarian, ranks 293 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.5 billion. The majority of Thiel's money, $2.73 million, has gone to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race. He has since switched his giving to Club for Growth Action, the super PAC of the ultra-conservative free market Club for Growth. Thiel has given $2 million to the Club super PAC.
William Koch, Oxbow Carbon And Huron Carbon (R)
William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $4 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney) and $500,000 to America 360 Committee.
Joseph Craft And Alliance Management Holdings (R)
Joseph Craft and his holding company, Alliance Management Holdings, gave $4.35 million to super PACs. Craft is ranked 331 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Alliance Management Holdings is a privately held company run by Craft with significant shares in the managing partner of Alliance Resource Partners. Craft and his company gave $3.35 million to American Crossroads and $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).
Jerry Perenchio (R)
Jerry Perenchio, founder of the Spanish language television network Univision, contributed $4.1 million to super PACs. Perenchio ranks 171 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Perenchio gave $2.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.5 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), and $100,000 to Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman).
American Federation Of Teachers (D)
The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest union in the nation with 1.5 million members, gave $3,866,558 to super PACs. The union donated $1,116,558 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC, $1 million to Majority PAC, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to DGA Action.
Robert And Rebekah Mercer (R)
Robert Mercer (left), the co-CEO of the $15 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, gave $3,804,354 million to super PACs. Robert Mercer contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads, $600,000 to Club for Growth Action, $250,000 to Freedom PAC, $250,000 to Prosperity First, $239,354 to Republican Super PAC and $200,000 to National Horizon. Rebekah Mercer gave $50,000 to the Coalition for American Values and $15,000 to the Club for Growth.
Steve & Amber Mostyn (D)
Steve and Amber Mostyn have contributed $3.428 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Steve, a multi-millionaire trial lawyer in Houston, Texas, and the president of the Texas Trial Lawyer Association, is a long-time donor to Democratic Party causes in both Texas and nationally. The Mostyns gave $2,003,850 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $1 million to House Majority PAC, $225,000 to Texans for America's Future and $200,000 to Planned Parenthood Votes.
Working for Working Americans (D)
Working for Working Americans, a union-run super PAC, has contributed $3.375 million to other super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The super PAC has given $2 million to House Majority PAC, $1.15 million to Majority PAC and $250,000 to Lunch Pail Republicans. (Pictured: Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, whose efforts Working for Working Americans' contributions are aiding.)
John Childs (R)
John Childs, the head of the Boston-based private equity firm J.W. Childs & Associates, has contributed $3.375 million to super PACs. Childs has contributed $1.125 million to Club for Growth Action, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $1 million to American Crossroads and $250,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund.
Amy Goldman (D)
Amy Goldman, the author and activist who has been called "perhaps the world's premier vegetable gardener," contributed $3.25 million to super PACs. Goldman is the heiress to the fortune of New York real estate titan Sol Goldman. Goldman gave $1.5 million to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC of the women's health provider, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to House Majority PAC and $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
United Association (D)
The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipe Fitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry, commonly known as United Association, has contributed $3,404,500 to super PACs in the 2012 election. United Association gave $2,191,500 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $500,000 to Workers' Voice, $325,000 to Majority PAC, $313,000 to House Majority PAC and $75,000 to The American Worker.
Crow Holdings LLC, Harlan Crow and Trammell Crow (R)
Crow Holdings LLC, which manages the wealth of the late real estate developer Trammel Crow, its director Harlan Crow and his brother Trammel S. Crow have contributed $3.16 million to super PACs. Harlan Crow, Trammel S. Crow and the company combined to give $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $1.3 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America, $50,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst), $35,000 to Campaign for Primary Accountability, $25,000 to American Unity PAC and $10,000 to Jan PAC.
Jeffrey Katzenberg (D)
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has given gave $3.15 million to super PACs. Katzenberg's net worth is estimated to be above $800 million. Katzenberg has given $3 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama's reelection bid. He has also given $100,000 to Majority PAC, $25,000 to House Majority PAC and $25,000 to Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman, the super PAC supporting Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a staunch ally of Hollywood. Katzenberg is also a major fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, having brought in more than $500,000.
Communications Workers Of America (D)
The Communications Workers of America, the largest telecommunications union in the world with a membership above 700,000, contributed $2,997,741 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The union donated $2,280,578 to the Communications Workers of America super PAC, $440,000 to Independent Source, $150,000 to House Majority PAC, $57,000 to Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures, $45,000 to American Worker and $28,163 to Workers' Voice.
John Ramsey (R)
John Ramsey, a 21-year old college student who inherited millions from his banker grandfather, contributed $2.84 million to super PACs. The majority of the young libertarian's contributions went to his own super PAC, Liberty for All. Another $450 went to Revolution PAC, which supported Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for president.
Cooperative Of American Physicians (I)
The <a href="http://www.capphysicians.com/about_us" target="_hplink">Cooperative of American Physicians</a> is a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer. The group has contributed $2.79 million to its own super PAC. No other information has been provided on the source of the funds contributed by the cooperative.
Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties, & Waterbury Properties (Bob Brockman) (R)
Four companies -- Dealer Computer Services, CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties -- sharing the same address as The Reynolds & Reynolds Company headed by Bob Brockman, have given $2.75 million to super PACs. CRC Information Systems, Fairbanks Properties and Waterbury Properties combined to give $1 million to Restore Our Future and another $1 million to American Crossroads. The Reynolds and Reynolds Company gave $500,000 to American Crossroads. Dealer Computer Services has given $200,000 to the pro-David Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund and $50,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund.
Kenneth And Anne Griffin (R)
Kenneth Griffin, the head of the massive hedge fund Citadel, has contributed $2.58 million to super PACs. Griffin is ranked 173rd on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans. In 2008, he helped raise money for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary, but switched to support Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election. Griffin has since become increasingly critical of President Obama and what he considers to be class warfare rhetoric coming from the White House. He stated that the wealthy have "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/ken-griffin-mitt-romney_n_1337721.html" target="_hplink">insufficient influence</a>" in politics and urged the rich to donate to political efforts to preserve their position atop the food chain. Griffin has given $1.55 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $1 million to American Crossroads. His wife, Anne, gave $30,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.
George Soros (D)
George Soros, the noted hedge fund investor and long-time Democratic donor, has contributed $2.525 million to super PACs when including contributions that he gave in October. Soros became famous for his political contributions after he gave more than $30 million to 527 groups to defeat former President George W. Bush in 2004. He has reached a mythological status with some conservatives as a wildly influential figure in world politics. In reported contributions, Soros has given $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $425,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Majority PAC.
Foster Friess (R)
Foster Friess, the Wyoming investor, contributed $2.52 million to super PACs, mostly to those supporting the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum. Since Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess has shifted his contributions to help Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans. Friess is estimated to be worth above $500 million. He has given $2.1 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum), $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $100,000 to FreedomWorks, $50,000 to Leaders for Families (also supporting Santorum), $50,000 to Freedom PAC, $25,000 to Friends of the Majority, $25,000 to USA Super PAC, $10,000 to Freedom Born Fund, $10,000 to Arizonans for Jobs, $10,000 for Independence Virginia PAC,$10,000 to Club for Growth Action, $5,000 to Fund for Freedom and $872 to Jan PAC.
Chevron, one of the nation's five largest companies, gave $2.5 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives.
Weaver Popcorn (R)
Weaver Popcorn, the Indiana-based popcorn maker owned by Michael Weaver, has contributed $2.4 million to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Republican operative Karl Rove. The company is one of the largest popcorn companies in the United States and is best known for their Pop Weaver brand.
Paul Singer (R)
Paul Singer (pictured far right), the hedge fund titan in charge of Elliot Associates, contributed $2.258 million to super PACs through June 2012. Singer has an estimated worth of $900 million. He has given $1,158,211 million to American Unity, a super PAC meant to support pro-gay marriage Republican candidates for office, $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $100,000 to Club for Growth Action.
William Dore (R)
William Dore, the Louisiana energy executive, gave $2.25 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum). This was the biggest foray into political giving by Dore, who has previously cut large checks for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association. He is estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Credit: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_KzFkneorU" target="_hplink">YouTube</a>
Jon Stryker (D)
Jon Stryker, an architect and heir to the Stryker Corporation fortune, has contributed $2.25 million to super PACs. Stryker has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama, and $250,000 to House Majority PAC. Stryker is worth $1.1 billion and ranks 375th on the Fortune 400 richest Americans list. He is a noted GLBT activist having donated money to groups including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Stryker is also the founder of the Arcus Foundation, the largest grant maker for gay and lesbian activism in the nation. Stryker has spent big in the past to help elect Democrats and oust Republicans from office in his home state of Michigan. (Pictured: President Barack Obama, the candidate supported by Stryker's contribution.)
Julian Robertson (R)
Julian Robertson, the hedge fund titan and founder of Tiger Management, contributed $2.25 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) in the current election cycle. Robertson is ranked 166 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.4 billion.
FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit organization, contributed $2,236,514 to its super PAC, FreedomWorks for America. The group is run by former Rep. Dick Armey and was instrumental in organizing the original Tea Party protests in 2009. The super PAC has been active in Republican Senate primaries backing Richard Mourdock's successful campaign to beat Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana. The group also also thrown its weight behind Ted Cruz in Texas and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. Stenberg lost his primary to state Sen. Deb Fischer and Cruz faces a run-off election against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The group is also spending money to defeat Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah. FreedomWorks has been spending money to help elect Tea Party Senate candidates like Cruz and Mourdock in the general election.
National Association Of Letter Carriers (D)
The National Association of Letter Carriers' political action committee, the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education Fund, gave $2,225,919 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union gave $1,213,919 to the AFL-CIO super PAC, Workers' Voice, $512,000 to House Majority PAC and $500,000 to Majority PAC.
Jon Huntsman Sr. (R)
Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire Utah industrialist, contributed $2.22 million to a super PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Huntsman Sr. has given away much of his fortune in recent years and is estimated to be worth slightly north of $1 billion. Huntsman's contributions to Our Destiny, the super PAC backing his son in the Republican primary contest, came under scrutiny based on the laws banning coordination between super PACs and campaigns.
Irwin Jacobs (D)
Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, has contributed $2.2 million to super PACs. Jacobs is worth $1.15 billion and ranks 372nd on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Jacobs has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama) $100,000 to Majority PAC and $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.
National Association of Realtors (I)
The National Association of Realtors, the primary trade association for realtors, has contributed $2,110,485 to its own super PAC in the 2012 election cycle. The group has long been a player in congressional elections and has already spent significant amounts to help Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) hold his newly redistricted seat in the 2012 elections.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association (D)
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has given $2,106,597 to super PACs during the 2012 election cycle. The union represents 20,000 controllers, engineers and other professionals involved in air traffic control. The union gave $1.25 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama), $600,000 to Majority PAC, $156,597 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voice and $100,000 to House Majority PAC.
Warren Stephens, Stephens Investment Holding & Stephens Inc. (R)
Warren Stephens, the head of Stephens, Inc., has contributed $2.05 million to super PACs. Stephens is tied for the position of 130th richest American, according to Forbes. Stephens has given $1.5 million to American Crossroads, $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $50,000 to Congressional Leadership Fund. (Pictured: Stephens, right, with President George W. Bush.)
Laborers' International Union (D)
The Laborers' International Union, which represents a half-million construction workers, has given $2.025 million to super PACs. The union gave $1.3 million to House Majority PAC, $650,000 to Majority PAC, $70,000 to Workers' Voice and $5,000 to The American Worker.
Richard Roberts (R)
Richard Roberts, an adviser at Mutual Pharmacy, has given $2.1 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Roberts gave $1 million to Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, $750,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, $250,000 to American Crossroads and $10,000 to Patriot Prosperity PAC. (Pictured: Mitt Romney, the candidate supported by Roberts' contribution.)
The Morses, The Villages & Other Companies (R)
H. Gary Morse, his wife, their children, the retirement community they operate, The Villages, and a number of subsidiary companies have combined to contribute $2,003,400 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The Morses and their companies contributed $1,753,400 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), $200,000 to American Crossroads and $50,000 to Freedom PAC (supporting Connie Mack). H. Gary Morse is part of Romney's Florida finance team and has hosted fundraisers for the former Massachusetts governor. The family's super PAC giving has all gone to support Romney's bid. Through September, a series of subsidiary companies controlled by The Villages and H. Gary Morse contributed $1.25 million to Restore Our Future and American Crossroads.
Anne Cox Chambers (D)
Anne Cox Chambers, the owner of the media company Cox Enterprises, has contributed $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama. Chambers is also the daughter of failed 1920 Democratic presidential nominee James Cox. Chambers is the 26th richest American, according to the Forbes 400 list, with a net worth of $12 billion.