A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has paid one of the Republican candidate’s veteran fundraisers a fee of $1.9 million for his work during a period when the super PAC raised about $24 million, according to new FEC filings.
The fee went to Podium Capital Group — a company that the super PAC’s treasurer said is Steve Roche’s. Roche is the top fundraiser for the principal outside group — "Restore Our Future" — that’s backing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Charlie Spies, the treasurer of the super PAC, confirmed in a telephone interview with iWatch News that Podium Capital is “Roche’s company.”
The hefty fees paid to Podium Capital suggest that court rulings in early 2010 that opened the floodgates for corporations, individuals and unions to give unlimited sums to outside groups backing candidates have been a bonanza for presidential contenders and some elite operatives with super PACs.
Roche is a long-time major fundraiser for Romney, going back to Romney’s days as Massachusetts Governor. He worked directly for Romney’s campaign until last summer, and then shifted to the PAC's chief fundraising job. At that time, Restore Our Future had pulled in just over $12 million, the figure it reported to the FEC for the first six months of 2011.
Although the super PAC is prohibited under federal election law from coordinating its work with the campaign, the transfer of such a senior operative from one group to another is not prohibited.
On FEC records Podium Capital only lists a P.O. Box in Beverly, Mass. Podium received $1.9 million for its work from mid-2011 through the end of January, according to the FEC filing.
Asked whether he deemed the fees paid to Roche’s company reasonable, Spies said “we don’t comment on payments to specific vendors.”
Calls to a phone number for Roche in Massachusetts were not answered.
Restore Our Future, at the end of January had raised $36.8 million, more than any of the super PACs backing other GOP candidates such as Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. The pro Romney super PAC has raked in much of its funds in seven and six figure donations from multi-millionaires and billionaires including several Wall Street hedge funds moguls such as John Paulson and Julian Robertson.
Super PACs have boomed this year in the wake of court rulings in early 2010 that allow outside groups to raise unlimited sums from corporations, individuals and unions.
A large chunk of the PAC’s spending has gone for negative ads to pummel Gingrich in Florida before its primary which Romney won handily, and to attack Santorum ahead of the Michigan primary on February 28 where the two candidates are locked in a tight race.
iWatch News Reporter Michael Beckel contributed to this report.