Romney super PAC donors put at credit card risk

Online security called lacking

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Ms. Gross would not discuss the super PAC’s fundraising methods or operations.

“We do not comment on our vendors,” she said.

As of April 1, a total of 533 people and companies had donated to Restore Our Future. Ninety of them gave $500 or less, with a median gift of $25,000, an option the website provides.

The fund is, by and large, a destination for exceedingly large donations; 149 contributors have given $100,000 or more. Several have gone so far as to establish limited-liability corporations to transfer money to the super PAC in an attempt to hide their identities. It is unlikely that such donors would make their political gifts using credit cards.

The failure to institute basic security violates industry standards, which could cause credit card companies to levy fees, fines and increased rates on a violator, potentially costing it hundreds of thousands of dollars, Ms. Kelley said.

Lawyers said there is also potential legal exposure in the form of fines payable to the state; risk of civil lawsuits by donors; and legal requirements to notify those affected, the specifics of which vary because regulations depend on the state where a donor resides.

“Most states have data-breach statutes that have a definition of breach of security, meaning the reasonable belief of unauthorized acquisition,” said David J. Shannon, a Philadelphia-based data-security lawyer.

In other states, “attorneys general will assess a penalty. There wouldn’t have to be actual harm for that,” he said.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the shadowy nature of the super PAC was apparent.

“How can any business that size not have a phone? Most businesses generating $50 million in revenue want a website so people can learn about the organization … but this has been intended to be as hidden from public view as possible,” she said.

“The fact that this could happen shows that they had no expectation that regular people might give,” she said, “but some did, and it shows an utter disregard for those donors. If anything says, ‘We only care about our richest donors,’ this does.”

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