Anti-Smith Ad Funding Still Unknown
Update: OpenSecrets learned that the Wayne Woodman organized Fight for the Dream, the super PAC that funneled money to the Freedom Fund for America’s Future to run ads against Smith in the primary. Woodman is a former finance co-chairman for Steve Welch, one of Smith’s primary opponents.
Here is their report:
Woodman confirmed in an interview that he organized Fight for the Dream. Asked why the group hadn’t submitted a response, now overdue, to an FEC request for additional information or filed a quarterly report that would disclose its donors, Woodman referred us to Anthony Ferate, who he said was his legal counsel.
Ferate…said in an interview that the filing had been sent to the FEC, and he forwarded us a copy. (Several hours after OpenSecrets Blog received the copy, the report appeared on the FEC’s website).
But that report shows that the entirety of Fight for the Dream’s funding came from a group called Restore the Dream — which uses the same UPS mailbox as Fight for the Dream.
Here the chain ends, though: Restore the Dream is a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit (so called because of a provision of the Internal Revenue Code), and doesn’t have to disclose its donors…Restore the Dream will have to file a Form 990 report with the IRS, but not until 2014, and even then it won’t have to reveal its donors.
Ferate denied that the groups were designed so as to avoid disclosure of their donors, saying that everything was done according to federal election laws.
Woodman said there was no connection between the super PACs and his work for the Welch campaign.
According to OpenSecrets, “The transactions between the two super PACs and the nondisclosing nonprofit provide a stark example of how disclosure requirements are sometimes rendered meaningless. By law, super PACs must reveal their donors to the public via their reports to the FEC. But when the donor is ultimately another group or an LLC that is under no legal mandate to say where its money is coming from, voters actually learn very little.”
Woodman and Ferate told OpenSecrets that Fight for the Dream will continue to raise and spend money on political campaigns.
The super PAC Freedom Fund for America’s Future spent $175,000 to oppose Tom Smith’s Senate candidacy in the GOP primary. The group ran an ad costing $145,000 in the days leading up the primary hammering Tom Smith for being a Democrat for 42 years – switching only a few months before announcing his candidacy for Senate.
But months later, little is known about where all that money came from.
The super PAC was formed on March 19, and received only one contribution prior to the April 4 pre-primary reporting deadline – meaning that its funding sources were unknown around the time of the primary.
That contribution was for $5,000 and suspected to be from Long Nyquist & Associates in Harrisburg. The only clue was FEC filings, which showed a $5,000 receipt and $5,000 disbursement on the same day to the firm.
Another FEC filing confirms that the firm Brabender/Cox produced and placed the $145K ad. The firm has a firewall in place to keep separate its independent expenditure operations – like the FFAF super PAC – and candidate activities – like its services for Smith opponent Steve Welch.
Since then, it was revealed that another $10,000 of Freedom Fund’s money came from the Northeast Pennsylvania Leadership Fund, a state-level PAC supporting Republican candidates.
NPLF is a hub for connected Harrisburg Republicans. It’s given thousands to the PA Senate Republican Campaign Committee and thousands more to Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware). Its contributors include lots of prominent PA Republican donors, including a noteworthy contribution in April: $5,000 from PA Department of Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser.
A Monday report by OpenSecrets.org shows another source of funds – Pennsylvania super PAC Fight for the Dream.
According to OpenSecrets, “Some groups, like this committee registered to a Washington, D.C. post office box, can file disclosures yet still have hundreds of thousands in contributions remain anonymous.”
The committee was created in April and is registered to Robert Heimbacher in Allentown, PA, and was asked on May 26 to submit additional information about its banking to the FEC. The super PAC still has not amended its initial filing.
Until Fight for the Dream files disclosures, no information will be available as to who really gave Freedom Fund the bulks of its $175,000.
Smith’s campaign had no comment.