Blog — Campaign Finance Reform

December 03, 2012

Stealthy Super PAC Donors Stay Under the Radar

By CREW Staff

CashWhat do the family behind a popcorn empire, real estate tycoons, and one of America’s top polluters have in common?  They are just a few of the deep-pocketed super PAC donors who gave at least $1 million during the 2012 election cycle, but whose efforts to sway voters drew little attention.

CREW’s latest report, Stealth Donors, highlights a dozen of these wealthy contributors who managed to avoid the spotlight despite their seven-figure donations.  While it seemed impossible to escape media coverage of Sheldon Adelson’s multi-million dollar donations, a few big-money donors managed to stay under the radar.  All of the donors highlighted in CREW’s report had policy or business interests depending on the outcome of the election. 

Here are a couple of examples from CREW’s bipartisan list:

  • Ira Rennert, investor, miner and industrialist, and owner of The Renco Group, Inc.
    Mr. Rennert donated $1 million to Restore Our Future, the super PAC created to support former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Mr. Rennert and his mining companies have infamously run afoul of environmental protection authorities in both the United States and Peru.  One of Renco’s companies, MagCorp, is currently engaged in a $900 million lawsuit initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Franklin Haney, real estate and property developer
    Mr. Haney donated $1 million in support of Democratic candidates to both Priorities USA Action and Majority PAC, and is the founder of FLH Company, a real estate and development company with a portfolio of more than $10 billion.  Mr. Haney’s client list includes government agencies through the southeastern United States.  He was previously investigated for campaign finance irregularities.

Super PAC donors with millions of dollars at their disposal and a willingness to spend money on political races are likely to get special attention from lawmakers.  CREW will be keeping an eye out to see what kind of return these top donors get on their investments.

CREW Announces 2012 Money in Politics Awards

While massive amounts of dark money had an effect in some races, in most elections it couldn't guarantee a victory on its own. Read More ›

TAKE ACTION: Ask DOJ to investigate this lying dark money group

After killing a 100 year old anti-corruption law, documents found in a meth house indicate American Tradition Partnership has broken the law. Sign our petition asking the Dept. of Justice investigate.
Read More ›

Aetna’s Transparency Problem

Consumers deserve to know when their insurance companies are using their premiums to shape election results, and Aetna proves companies can't be trusted to disclose political spending on their own. Read More ›

Sleazy Super PACs

Want to really make sure voters won’t know who’s funding your Super PAC? Just follow this Super PAC’s example: Read More ›

Revealing Dark Money and Big Data

Our Senior Counsel, Adam Rappaport, appeared on WNYC to discuss how "social welfare" nonprofit groups, known as 501(c)(4)s are avoid regulation to finance the campaigns. Read More ›

© 2015 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, all rights reserved.
• 409 7th St. NW • Suite 300 • Washington, DC 20004 • 202-408-5565 •


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington®, and the
“CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” wordmark are registered trademarks.