Romney’s High-Finance Political Donors Named
Whenever Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been down and in need of an enforcer, one has been there.
Restore Our Future, the independent “Super PAC” that supports Romney’s campaign, has been a machine of destruction in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, swamping Republican rival Newt Gingrich with attack ads each time he has seemed to threaten Romney’s frontrunner status.
Until late on Tuesday, the engines behind the PAC—its donors—were largely secret.
But the group’s financial reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reveal that private equity executives, hedge fund managers and other financial heavyweights are key contributors to the fundraising juggernaut that Restore Our Future has become.
Political action committees (PACs) are groups with great clout in U.S. politics that are legally separate from candidates. In this campaign, they have unleashed negative advertising against the rival of the candidate they favor.
The filings reveal that Restore Our Future had $23.6 million in the bank as of Dec. 31 - more than the Romney campaign itself. The PAC has spent $17.4 million in support of Romney, including nearly $11 million in Florida before Romney’s decisive victory in the Republican primary there on Tuesday.
The group’s filings reveal a broad base of donors who have given $100,000 or more, taking advantage of the lack of limits on donations to such groups. Campaigns are limited to $2,500 donations per donor.
Among the most generous contributors to Romney’s cause have been people who share Romney’s investment background. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, co-founded Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and has emphasized his business experience in touting his ability to create jobs and improve the economy.
Three hedge fund managers pitched in $1 million to the pro-Romney PAC: Tiger Management’s Julian Robertson, Elliot Management’s Paul Singer and Renaissance Technology’s Robert Mercer.
Miguel Fernandez, chairman of a healthcare private equity firm, gave $500,000. MBF Family Investments, which shares an address with Fernandez’s investment company, gave another $500,000.
The list of major donors to Restore Our Future is studded with other veterans of Wall Street and the investment community. Tudor Investment founder Paul Tudor Jones contributed $200,000. Goldman Sachs [GS 114.80 3.33 ( 2.99%) ] executive Edward Forst forked over $95,000. Four other Goldman employees gave at least $50,000. Lewis Eisenberg, a leader at private equity firm KKR, gave $25,000.
Romney, mocked by Gingrich as a “Massachusetts moderate,” has received the support of conservative money men such as Bob Perry, a Texas home builder, and William Koch, a billionaire investor whose family is active in conservative politics.
“You would think they would be backing much more conservative candidates,” said Fred Zeidel, a Houston fundraiser for Romney. “It seems to me what they are saying, ‘Hey we’ve got to beat Barack Obama, and this is the way we are going to do it.’”
Restore Our Future also has drawn contributors from Reebok founder Paul Fireman and philanthropist David Mugar from Boston, Romney’s longtime home.