Pro-Romney super PAC raised $17.9 million

February 1, 2012

Mitt Romney has a lot of people to thank for his big win in the Florida Republican presidential primary Tuesday night, but perhaps no one more than the 11 people who directed $1 million or more each to a super PAC backing his campaign.

Restore Our Future, an independent political group with the sole purpose of promoting Romney and tearing down his rivals, released the names of its mega donors in a federal filing Tuesday night after the polls closed in Florida. The documents show that the group raised $17.9 million in the last half of 2011.

The donor rolls are about as top heavy as they come, with a third of that money coming from just six people. The group’s treasurer declined to comment on the report.

Four of the $1 million donors are New York-based hedge fund managers: Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management; Robert Mercer, of Renaissance Technologies; Julian Robertson, of Tiger Management; and John Paulson, founder of Paulson and Co. who famously made $5 billion in one year betting against the mortgage crisis.

Bill Koch, a Florida philanthropist, gave a $250,000 personal check to back Romney and another $750,000 through the energy company he founded, Oxbow Carbon. Koch is the son of the founder of Koch Industries but sold his share of the company to his two brothers after a long legal fight.

Miguel Fernandez, a private equity partner from Miami, gave $500,000 personally and another half million through a family investment company. Rooney Holdings, a Tulsa-based investment company founded by Francis Rooney, also gave $1 million.

Four subsidiaries of Melaleuca, a company selling vitamins and natural cleaning products, each gave $250,000 to Romney. The companies were founded by businessman Frank VanderSloot, who is featured on his personal Web site in a photo standing with Newt Gingrich.

The donations have gone to a slew of advertising supporting Romney in the early contests of the Republican nomination process. Restore Our Future has reported spending $17.1 million backing Romney in the past two months, with $10.7 million spent in Florida alone.

Democrats have criticized the increased role of large donations in politics in the wake of the landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010. The court freed corporate spending on elections, setting off further court and regulatory rulings that allowed big donations to political interest groups active in the campaign.

If Romney becomes the Republican nominee, he will benefit from spending by other Republican-aligned groups that have already begun attacking President Obama. One such group, American Crossroads, announced Tuesday that it had raised $51 million in 2011 along with a sister nonprofit group.

The new Crossroads donor list also contained its own fair share of corporate titans. Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons has given the group $7 million through his personal funds and that of the Contran Corporation. Simmons also donated $1 million to Make Us Great Again, the super PAC backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and another $500,000 to Winning Our Future, the PAC backing Gingrich.

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