Mitt Romney Tries To Move Past Mystery Donor

The revelation that Mitt Romney’s former business partner was behind a secretive donation complicates the candidate’s White House run.

Mitt Romney Tries To Move Past Mystery Donor

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign looked pretty shady last week when it was revealed a dummy corporation called W Spann LLC had been set up to funnel an anonymous $1 million donation to an independent group fighting for Romney’s election.

Well, that mystery donor revealed himself this weekend: it’s Edward Conard, Romney’s former colleague at Bain Capital.

As I said in my modest update on the original story, Conard most likely came out to curtail a scandal, rather than because he’s politically courageous. Note that his explanatory statement — “[I formed W Spann LLC] after consulting prominent legal counsel regarding the transaction, and based on my understanding that the contribution would comply with applicable laws” — deals with legality, rather than boasting about Romney’s accomplishments or political record.

Romney’s remarks on the matter bolster that argument.

“I think the whole controversy with regards to his contribution certainly sort of disappears when he came forward and said he was the contributor,” Romney told reporters today. “He’s been a long-term business associate and friend of mine, a contributor in the past.”

While Romney would like this story to settle down even more than he wants the above fudge picture to disappear, Conard’s rapid and passionless response to the story raises the possibility that the Romney campaign pushed for him to take one for the team.

If that proves to be the case, or if voters feel that it is the case, then Romney will be accused of arm twisting and insider political training, and will face many uncomfortable questions.

In fact, a ‘Washington Post’ editorial raised some this morning: “Did [Romney] know about Mr. Conard’s generosity? Did he play any role in soliciting the donation? What is his view of the corporate cutout?”

The editorial ended by reminding voters that Romney once worried about secretive donations like the one he himself received from Conard: “Political spending has been driven into secret corners, and more power and influence has been handed to hidden special interests,” Romney griped during the 2008 campaign.

And now that quote will haunt him into 2012.