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A fledgling company dissolved shortly after making a $1 million contribution to an independent political committee supporting former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, leaving the source of the money unclear.
The seven-figure donation from the mysterious company, which was formed and dissolved over four months this year, is raising new questions about secret campaign money flowing to so-called "Super PACs" under new rules established after a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law.
The PAC, called Restore Our Future, raised $12.2 million during the first six months of 2011 and was created by former aides to Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The outside group is not officially connected to Romney and can receive unlimited funds from individuals and corporations because of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as "Citizens United."
W Spann LLC was incorporated in Delaware on March 15 and then made a $1 million contribution to Restore Our Future on April 28, according to records with the Federal Election Commission. W Spann then folded on July 12, two weeks before the PAC made its first disclosure of its donors this year.
NBC News, which first reported the circumstances surrounding the donation, said the company was formed by a Boston lawyer, Cameron Casey of Ropes & Gray. Casey and a spokesman for the law firm did not respond to messages Thursday from The Associated Press.
According to her online bio, Casey provides "comprehensive estate planning advice to high-net-worth individuals and families" and "advises nonprofit organizations and their donors with respect to charitable planning matters."
In the FEC filing, W Spann listed an address of 590 Madison Avenue in New York, but there are no state business records on file pertaining to the company. A phone call to building manager Minskoff Equities said it had no records of the firm as a tenant.
One of Ropes & Gray's clients is Bain Capital, the investment firm previously led by Romney. Bain Capital has office space at the high-rise at 590 Madison Ave., along with IBM, UBS, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Bank of America and Cemex.
Alex Stanton, a spokesman for Bain Capital, said in a statement the company "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."
Charles Spies, one of Restore Our Future's organizers, also did not respond to AP's questions. Spies declined to answer questions about the W Spann donation from NBC News, saying "that's not something that we normally ask a contributor for." He said the PAC "has fully complied with, and will continue to comply with, all FEC disclosure requirements."
W Spann's donation was one of the largest the PAC received this year. Restore Our Future received $500,000 from Marriott International Inc. CEO J.W. Marriot Jr. and Marriot's brother, Richard, the chairman of Host Hotels and Resorts. The CEO of New York hedge fund Moore Capital Management, Louis Moore Bacon, also gave $500,000.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, said that said recent court rulings, like Citizens United, and a lack of serious consequences for political spending "means it's all-systems-go for outside influence."
This program aired on August 4, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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