Pro-Gingrich group moves to delay revealing donors


Another leading presidential super PAC signaled Thursday that it plans to keep its donors' identities under wraps until Jan. 31, meaning voters in four crucial early contests will go to the polls without knowing who is behind two well-funded efforts to influence their decisions.

Winning Our Future, an outside group backing Newt Gingrich, notified the Federal Election Commission that it is changing its filing status to push back a deadline for making donations public by four weeks, copying a move made earlier this month by Restore Our Future, a group backing Mitt Romney, one of Gingrich's chief rivals for the GOP nomination.

Both Super PACs, formed to take unlimited donations to assist their preferred candidates, switched their status from quarterly to monthly filers at the FEC. The change means they can avoid filing a Dec. 29 deadline for disclosing donors and wait instead until their year-end reports are due on the last day of January.

That's the same day as Florida's Republican presidential primary. Voters already will have cast ballots in Iowa on Jan. 3, New Hampshire, Jan. 10 and in South Carolina on Jan. 21.

Winning Our Future notified the FEC of its existence just last week. On Wednesday, it reported spending about $35,000 in independent expenditures on phone calls on behalf of Gingrich in Iowa, a report that does not reveal who paid for the calls.

The super PAC has already made independent expenditures in Iowa and plans to do so in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, the other January primaries, according to Becky Burkett, the group’s president. She is the former chief development officer at a American Solutions for Winning the Future, a Gingrich fundraising group that shuttered last summer after the former House speaker launched his presidential campaign.

Burkett refused to say how much money the new group has raised.

“I won’t know until after the holiday,” she said.

The pro-Romney group, which raised over $12 million as of last June, reported about $300,000 in anti-Gingrich media buys in Florida. The group is also purchasing ads in South Carolina, MSNBC reported.

Both groups insisted that they made the change in their filing schedule for accounting reasons.

“It’s an administrative issue. Filing monthly is a lot easier," said Burkett. Noting that the move is "in compliance with the FEC," she insisted there's no effort to hide donors' identities. "The disclosure is coming,” she said.

Unless they follow the lead of the pro-Romney and pro-Gingrich groups, super PACs that have begun making expenditures for the New Hampshire primary must release donor information Dec. 29.  

Meanwhile, more presidential Super PACs are forming by the day. Two new Super PACs formed to support Ron Paul this week, bringing the total number of such funds playing in the presidential contest to at least 22.

One of the pro-Paul PACs, Endorse Liberty Inc, is based out of Provo, Utah. The treasurer is Abraham Niederhauser, a marketing manager at Orabrush Inc., the maker of a tongue cleaner targeting bad breath, according to his LinkedIn profile. Niederhauser was not immediately available for comment.

The other new fund is the Miami-based Ron Paul Volunteers PAC, whose treasurer Hector Roos told Politico yesterday, “We can't wait for Iowa to happen. We're such big fans of him down here and want to support him.”

Roos told Politico he hopes to raise “into the six figures” to support Paul in Florida.

Neither Super PAC treasurer has contributed directly to Paul’s campaign in the past, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Below is our chart of presidential Super PACs, updated to reflect the latest information.

For the latest Super PAC registrations, you can check our Follow the Unlimited Money page.