The news today that an anonymous donor has dropped $7 million on former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman’s conservative political action committee is a good time to reflect on what a difference time and fine print can make.
George Steinbrenner, the late New York Yankees owner, was convicted of a felony — conspiracy — after he “improperly” explained a $25,000 campaign contribution to the campaign of then-president Richard Nixon. He also encouraged employees of his shipbuilding company to make donations for which he would reimburse them. That was illegal then, and it’s illegal now.
For that, Steinbrenner lost his right to vote and was thrown out of baseball for awhile.
But that was then and the $7 million anonymous donation is now.
USA Today reports:
That single donation accounts for 25% of the nearly $27.5 million raised by the group between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011. The organization, which touts its grass-roots advocacy efforts, showed contributions from just 34 donors during that period. Eight contributors accounted for nearly 90% of the group’s revenue.
As a tax-exempt group, the American Action Network does not have to publicly disclose its donors, and spokesman Dan Conston said the organization would not comment on its contributors. It was founded with help from veteran Republican power broker Fred Malek and is run by former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman.
The filings, made available to USA TODAY, show the network spent more than $25 million and used the lion’s share of the money — $17 million — on so-called issue advocacy and grass-roots organizing. It said $5.5 million went to activity focused on candidates and other political activity. The group also distributed money to six other conservative groups, including nearly $500,000 to American Crossroads, a super PAC linked to Republican strategist Karl Rove.
It’s all perfectly legal.