An investigation into the group "Evangelicals for Romney" suggests the organization may have deep ties to the Romney campaign, despite protests to the contrary.
Campaign finance experts tell Time's Swampland blog the organization looks like a "shell organization" for the Romney campaign. David and Nancy French run the organization and have many connections to Romney that look like more than just a coincidence.
Indeed, what is perhaps most interesting about Evangelicals for Mitt is how apparent its links to Romney Central are. Nancy French worked for Romney’s 2008 campaign and partnered with Romney’s wife, Ann, on an unpublished book. The couple also served as steering committee vice chairs on Romney’s 2008 National Faith and Values Steering Committee.
The Frenchs are also quietly linked to two wealthy Romney donors in Massachusetts, John Kingston and Kurt Keilhacker, and all four have close ties to Romney’s campaign funding organization through a web of companies and nonprofits. Among other things, the four operate a Christian nonprofit organization that raises money out of a building in Beverly, Mass., at 138 Conant Street. The company that handles the Romney campaign’s finances shares that same address.
David and Nancy French come from modest means. Evangelicals for Mitt, however, has made news by spending serious money. The group tipped the scales in favor of Romney at the April 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in New Orleans by buying at least 200 tickets for Romney supporters at a total cost of nearly $40,000. It handed out 800 copies of Romney’s book “No Apology” and 2,000 Evangelicals for Mitt piggybanks. Attendees who took up the offer speculated in the press that Evangelicals for Mitt must have found them via Romney’s campaign e-mail contact list.
When asked by TIME where that money came from, Nancy French merely says, “We’ve got friends.” And she argues that her group is not compelled to reveal the source of that money because the spending occurred in April 2010. “This was before he was a candidate,” she said of Romney. “So the campaign finance stuff did not apply in terms of the limits.”