Those groups with the who’d-argue-with-that?-sounding names spending big money this election season? The Washington Post took a look at one of them on Saturday, the day after the last quarterly FEC disclosure deadline of this election season (some of these groups, remember, do have to periodically report who funds them).
And while The Concerned Taxpayers of America sounds like it ought to have a wide support base (is paying taxes of no concern to you?), it turns out to be funded by just two people. Two apparently very Concerned Taxpayers. Per the Post:
Daniel G. Schuster Inc., an Owings Mills, Md., concrete firm, gave two donations to the group totaling $300,000, new disclosure records show. New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer gave the group $200,000.
And that’s the extent of the financial support reported by Concerned Taxpayers, which says it was formed in September “to engage citizens from every walk of life and political affiliation” in the fight against “runaway spending.”
The group’s rapid creation - and its narrow funding base - illustrates how one or two wealthy donors can have a dramatic impact on political races, particularly in the wake of recent court rulings that have swept away many traditional spending limits. The situation also underscores how the precise motivations and goals of many independent groups can remain stubbornly opaque, even when disclosure is required.
Concerned Taxpayers is a super PAC, meaning it can raise and spend unlimited amounts but cannot work in concert with candidates (and must periodically disclose its funders). The group has so far spent $450,000 on TV ads “targeting just two lawmakers: Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Frank M. Kratovil Jr. (D-Md.),” reports the Post.
Why might these two races in particular be of concern to these Concerned Taxpayers? One possible hint, per the Post:
DeFazio said in an interview Saturday that he remains mystified by the group’s attacks on him, but noted that he co-sponsored legislation to levy a tax on major hedge-fund transactions. Mercer’s firm, Renaissance Technologies, is one of the leading hedge-fund companies on Wall Street and would be dramatically impacted by such a proposal.
Well, maybe the name Concerned Hedge Fund Executive of America was already taken?Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.