When Paul Ryan chose a Florida retirement home for his first campaign appearance as vice presidential candidate in that swing state, he didn’t just choose a large community full of dependable voters – he chose a company that has donated through a cluster of opaquely-named LLCs to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. The super PAC received $1.3 million from The Villages administrators and affiliates in just 11 donations, almost all from companies rather than people.
Five different companies sharing an address in The Villages, Florida, including SCD Investments, GTMJ Investment Group, Diversified Commercial Property Services LLC, Central Sumter Utility LLC and Clearlink Communication LLC, gave $350,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC helmed by former Mitt Romney officials in June, the most recent month for which disclosures are available. The address is linked to H. Gary and Renee Morse, billionaire developers of the complex.
In addition to the donations from companies affiliated with the real estate complex they control, three members of the Morse family gave directly: Renee Morse gave $350,000; Mark Morse gave $34,200; Harold Morse gave $100,000. Additionally, Villages vice president Tracy Matthews gave $106,700 on the same day as his boss, and Jennifer Parr, who works in sales there, also gave $85,500 on the same day, records show.
The Villages development company was one of Restore Our Future’s earliest supporters, giving a quarter-million dollars in June, 2011.
Corporations are allowed to give to super PACs following from a series of court decisions including the 2010 Citizens United case. Publicly-held companies, however, have shied away from politics for fear of alienating shareholders and customers. Often, when LLCs give to super PACs, it is either an attempt to hide the source of the money of because one person or family controls the company’s finances.
Restore Our Future has spent $66 million on ads hammering Mr. Romney’s opponents so far, and there is no limit to how many times its donors may give.