Dozens Of Romney Donors Evade Contribution Limits Through Super PAC Donations

Mitt RomneyYesterday, Restore Our Future, the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, released its year-end campaign finance disclosure forms. A ThinkProgress analysis of the 147 individual donors to the independent expenditure-only committee reveals that more than 85 percent of them also contributed the legal maximum to Romney’s presidential campaign committee. And like Romney, a large portion of those donors were private equity managers or other financial-sector figures.

Of the 127 Restore Our Future donors who had also given $2,500 contributions to Romney’s campaign, two gave the super PAC $1 million contributions (hedge fund investors Julian Robertson and Paul Singer), two gave $50,000 contributions (home builder Bob Perry and venture capitalist Steven Webster), and another five gave $25,000 contributions. In all, about $9 million came from donors who had “maxed out” to Romney.

The majority of the “double donors” were venture capitalists, real estate developers, bankers, and investors — with those contributors accounting for about $6 million.

Restore Our Future has already spent a stunning $17 million on expenditures attacking Romney’s primary opponents — making them the most active super PAC to date — in addition to over $800,000 on activities to support the Romney campaign.

Federal campaign laws, enacted around the time of the Watergate scandal and indexed to inflation a decade ago, limit the amount an individual can contribute to each candidate for president, Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives. For the 2012 campaign, that limit is $2,500 per election.

But with the Speechnow.org ruling in 2010, those same individuals may now give as much as they want to independent-expenditure-only “super” political action committees, like Restore Our Future PAC, on top of the $2,500. Since the super PACs claim they will not “make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications” to federal candidates, donations to them do not count toward federal limits.