After Lindsey Graham met billionaire, supportive super PAC secured donation an hour later

Center for Public Integrity

In early March, billionaire John Catsimatidis met privately in New York City with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., where the two men lamented the still-fragile economy and chewed over other national issues.

At the time, Catsimatidis, the owner of a grocery store chain and a 2013 New York City Republican mayoral hopeful, had already donated the legal maximum of $5,200 to Graham’s re-election campaign.

But about an hour after Graham left Catsimatidis’ New York City office, Catsimatidis received another guest: a man connected with a pro-Graham super PAC called the West Main Street Values PAC.

The West Main Street Values PAC — it says its mission is to “aggressively defend” Graham — ultimately received $25,000 from one of Catsimatidis’ companies, United Refining Company. That money arrived in the super PAC’s bank account three days after the in-person meeting, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Donors — including corporations and unions — may give unlimited amounts of money to a super PAC under the condition that the super PAC doesn’t coordinate its spending with a political candidate’s campaign.

“I’m a moderate, and I believe in the middle of the road,” Catsimatidis told the Center for Public Integrity in confirming the meetings with Graham and his supportive super PAC. “One of the PAC people came to see me after the senator left, and I decided to support him. And that is that.”

Neither a spokesman for Graham or for the West Main Street Values PAC responded to requests for comment.

Related: Graham's campaign collects bundle from lobbyists

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This story is part of Primary Source. Primary Source keeps you up-to-date on developments in the post-Citizens United world of money in politics. Click here to read more stories in this blog.

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

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