Presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought on Tuesday to downplay that a man employed at the firm Romney founded had created and then dissolved a company used to funnel campaign contributions to Romney.
Former Bain Capital Executive Edward Conard confirmed last week that he had contributed $1 million to the pro-Romney political action committee Restore Our Future in April through a firm, identified in Federal Election Commission filings as W. Spann LLC, that formed in March and dissolved in July shortly before campaign finance reporting deadlines. Romney's campaign portrayed the matter as closed, with Spokesperson Brittany Gross saying Conard's disclosure should "put an end to the supposed controversy."
"He came out and discussed who he is, so there's not much question anymore - no controversy because he said, 'Hey, it's me, and I've given to Mitt many times before,' " Romney told reporters in Concord, New Hampshire.
Romney cofounded Bain Capital in 1984 and employed Conard from 1993 until his retirement in 2007, a source confirmed to Reuters.
The case of the mysterious W. Spann LLC has highlighted questions about how a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns, Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission, has reshaped the landscape for political fundraising. Conard and his wife, Jill, had also given $2,500 each to Romney's presidential committee -- the maximum allowed for individuals contributing to presidential candidates.
"They're raising unlimited money from donors who can only give limited contributions to the candidate himself, and then are spending money directly to support the candidate," Fred Wertheimer, president of watchdog Democracy 21, which called on the U.S. Justice Department and FEC to investigate the contribution, told The Associated Press. "The whole operation is a sham."