Donor profile: William S. Rose (Specialty Group)

Quick stats on the biggest financial backers of Election 2012

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Ranking: 6

Total contributions to super PACs: $12.1 million*

Federal hard money and 527 contributions: $0

Corporate names: Specialty Investments Group, Inc. (formerly known as Specialty Group, Inc.); Kingston Pike Development, LLC; and Americana RoseCraft, LLC

Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2012): $0

Lobbying issues: N/A

Biography:

A new corporate mega-donor called “Specialty Group, Inc.” splashed onto the scene during the final stretch of the 2012 campaign. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 11, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company contributed nearly $5.3 million to the conservative super PAC FreedomWorks for America. By Election Day, that amount increased to almost $10.6 million.

Sixty-one-year-old attorney William S. Rose Jr., serves as Specialty’s CEO, president and general counsel. Rose’s $634,000 home — about a 30-minute drive from downtown Knoxville in a subdivision called Montgomery Cove — is listed as the company’s “principal office.”

Business records show that Specialty Group registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State on Sept. 26. On Nov. 28, the company changed its name to “Specialty Investments Group, Inc.”

In late October, another of Rose’s companies, Kingston Pike Development, LLC, donated an additional $1.5 million to super PAC FreedomWorks for America. Records show the company was created on Sept. 27, a day after Rose registered Specialty.

The two companies accounted for 52 percent of the $23 million that the tea party-aligned super PAC raised through mid-November. When asked about the donations by Mother Jones, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey — who until recently was the head of FreedomWorks — pleaded ignorance: "I know nothing about this," Armey said.

Records are scant about both of Rose’s organizations, though in a six-page press release dated Nov. 3, Rose stated that Specialty’s purpose was to "buy, sell, develop and invest in a variety of real estate ventures and investments." Beyond that, Rose said he would not elaborate.

“The business of Specialty Group is my 'family secret,' a secret that will be kept — as allowed by applicable law — for at least another 50 years,” he wrote.

On Dec. 20, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two campaign finance reform groups, filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice alleging that Specialty and Kingston Pike were "straw companies" created to obscure the true source of political contributions from the public.

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.