Pro-Romney Committee Corrects Reporting on Major Donor

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Photographer: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Restore Our Future, a super- political action committee backing Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, listed an incorrect address for a $400,000 donor on Federal Election Commission reports filed April 20, according to the organization’s spokeswoman.

The error led to an inaccurate Bloomberg News report about who was behind the donation.

Because of a “clerical” error, the super-PAC’s public report included the wrong address for contributor SeaSpray Partners LLC, said Brittany Gross, Restore Our Future’s spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “We will be filing an amended report” to the FEC “in the coming days to reflect the correct address for the company,” she said.

Gross declined to give more information about the real SeaSpray donor while saying it “has nothing to do with” Scott DeSano, the business owner who was identified in a Bloomberg April 20 article. DeSano didn’t return a reporter’s calls before publication. After the article was published, he told Bloomberg he didn’t make the contribution.

Restore Our Future’s monthly receipts and expenditures became public on the FEC website on April 20, and the sixth- largest contribution in March came from SeaSpray Partners, according to the documents.

The FEC documents filed by the super-PAC included a specific street address in Palm Beach, Florida, for SeaSpray.

Florida Corporate Filings

Using that address and business name, Bloomberg researched Florida corporate filings and other public records, which listed DeSano as the owner of the limited-liability company. Through an online resume posted at Linkedin.com and other public documents on the Internet, Bloomberg identified DeSano as the owner and a former head trader for Fidelity Investments.

Bloomberg found that DeSano, while a trader at Fidelity and living in Boston, had given Romney a $500 contribution in December 2003, after he was elected Massachusetts governor, according to disclosure records filed with the state Office of Campaign & Political Finance.

Bloomberg called and e-mailed Gross at Restore Our Future seeking comment on DeSano and the $400,000 SeaSpray contribution. Gross replied by e-mail saying that super-PAC officials “aren’t going to comment on specific donors.”

Based on the public documents, Bloomberg published a story linking the $400,000 Restore Our Future contribution to DeSano’s SeaSpray.

DeSano Denies Donation

DeSano, using the mobile phone number left by a reporter before publication, called to object to the story. He confirmed being the sole owner of SeaSpray Partners LLC at the Palm Beach address listed on Restore Our Future’s report. He said he didn’t give a donation to the super-PAC.

A reporter then sought comment from Gross via e-mail and calls to her mobile phone leaving voice-mails explaining that DeSano was disputing the Restore Our Future’s FEC report of the SeaSpray donation.

This afternoon, Gross replied to Bloomberg’s e-mails, saying that the super-PAC had made an error regarding the LLC’s address. In a follow-up e-mail, Gross wrote that the SeaSpray Partners LLC that had given the money isn’t associated with DeSano.

Won’t Reveal Donor

In another e-mail, Gross said the super-PAC won’t disclose to Bloomberg the owner behind the real SeaSpray contribution.

“The address will be provided when we file the amendment,” she wrote. “In regards to ownership, we provide the information required by FEC, which is only the LLC information.”

Several other LLCs are included in Restore Our Future’s March contributions. Topping the list was $1,000,000 from Huron Carbon LLC, which has the same West Palm Beach address as William Koch’s Oxbow Carbon & Minerals, the world’s biggest marketer of petroleum coke.

Another $250,000 came from Fair Oaks Finance LLC of Hamilton, Montana.

Top individual contributors last month included Dallas investor Harold Simmons, the owner of a nuclear-waste disposal facility. He gave $600,000, while Avista Capital Partners’ co- chief executive officer, Steven Webster, wrote a $500,000 check. The super-PAC also received $850,000 from Kenneth Griffin, chief executive officer of Citadel LLC, a Chicago-based hedge fund.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at jbykowicz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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