Pro-Romney group raises $12.2 million, mostly in big dollar checks

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

A conservative "super PAC" created to boost Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid raised more than $12.2 million in the first six months of the year, mostly though big contributions from wealthy GOP donors.

Restore Our Future, a political committee founded by Romney allies earlier this year, reported receiving four contributions of $1 million apiece, according to a finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday.

John Paulson, a New York hedge fund manager, gave $1 million to the pro-Romney committee. The other three $1 million contributions came from corporations: Eli Publishing, F8 LLC, (both list the same Provo, Utah, address), and W. Spann LLC, based in New York.

Meanwhile, the committee accepted dozens of six-figure contributions, including $500,000 apiece from Marriott hotels chairman J.W. Marriott; his brother, Richard Marriott; hedge fund manager Louis Moore Bacon; and James Davis, chairman of New Balance Athletic Shoes. Paul Edgerly, an investor with Bain Capital, Romney's former employer, also contributed $500,000, as did his wife, Sandra.

The committee also took a $500,000 check from Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder and major GOP donor who is perhaps best known as one of the early contributors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth--a 527 political group that spent millions trashing John Kerry in the 2004 election. Perry has been a prolific donor to GOP candidates and committees over the years, most recently contributing millions to American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two leading "shadow GOP" groups formed during the 2010 elections.

Perry has also been a major financial supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is also considering a 2012 run. Bob Perry's contribution to the pro-Romney group might suggest he's supporting the former Massachusetts governor in the race, but FEC records show he gave the cash in March, well before Perry publicly admitted he was rethinking his decision not to run for the White House.

At the same time, Bob Perry has also been known to hedge his bets among presidential contenders. He spread out his contributions to GOP hopefuls during the 2008 primary fight--something he appears to be doing again this time around. In addition to giving $2,500 to Romney's presidential campaign in June, FEC records show Perry also contributed $5,000 to Tim Pawlenty--$2,500 in April for the primary and $2,500 in May for the general election--the maximum donation he can give within legal limits.

As The Ticket previously reported, Restore Our Future is aiming to raise millions to boost Romney's presidential bid, largely through unlimited and unregulated contributions. Indeed, Romney wouldn't be legally allowed to accept any of the checks disclosed by Restore Our Future because, as a candidate, he's not allowed to accept contributions from corporations or checks from individuals that exceed the $2,500 limit per election limit.

But the pro-Romney super PAC can raise and spend unlimited amounts to tout the ex-governor's 2012 bid--so long as it doesn't directly coordinate with the Romney campaign on how it's using that money. Indeed, recently approved FEC rules allow Romney to even raise cash for the group, though technically he's prohibited from soliciting checks beyond the regular $5,000 per election contribution to political action committees.

As the Center for Public Integrity's Peter Stone reported last week, Romney headlined a dinner party for donors to Restore Our Future two weeks ago in New York.