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Mystery PAC drops $1.7 million before revealing Adelson connection

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Sheldon AdelsonA super PAC that deliberately disguised its connection to Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson emerged from the shadows to drop nearly $1.7 million in a single day this week to oppose President Barack Obama's reelection, one of a series of money bombs in a week where outside spending threatens to top $200 million.

On the same day it filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring the expenditure, Republicans for Prosperous America also announced it was changing its name to the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, thereby revealing its ties to the Republican Jewish Coalition, a politically active nonprofit chaired by Adelson that separately has spent $4.6 million since September to defeat Obama.

"We didn't want to tip our hand," said Mathew Brooks, who oversees political spending at the RJC and acknowledged the name switch in an interview with Sunlight. He said that the newly minted Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund got no donations before Oct. 17 -- meaning that the names of its contributors won't be revealed until December. Brooks refused to name names before then. "We'll be filing our required disclosure on Dec. 6," he said.

Adelson and his wife Miriam had donated a combined $52 million to Republican candidates and causes as of Oct. 17, making the couple by far the most generous campaign underwriters of this campaign cycle

The new super PAC purchased the anti-Obama advertisements on Oct. 30. It's not clear yet what markets they are targeting, but Sunlight's Political Ad Sleuth shows that the similarly named Republican Jewish Coalition has been active placing ads in Las Vegas, where Adelson lives, and in Miami, which has a large Jewish population. Both markets are in presidential battleground states. The ads accuse Obama of backtracking on his support for Israel.

According to the filings, the super PAC arm of the RJC is operated by David Satterfield of Arent Fox, a law firm located in Washington, D.C., which helped obscure the group's true origin. According to his bio, Satterfield oversees other PACs and outside groups, including Arent Fox PAC, which has spent $190,000 this election cycle. 

While running the group through a separate firm helped keep the group anonymous, there were practical reasons as well, according to Brooks. "We wanted to ensure proper segregation between our candidate PAC and our super PAC."

(Illustration by Lindsay Young)