Billionaire Donors Hide Behind Velvet Curtain at Republican Convention


Mel Sembler, a major fundraiser who was an ambassador during both the George H.W. and George W. Bush administrations, took just a moment to answer questions. Asked how much he had agreed to raise for the campaign, he replied, "We're going to raise whatever's needed."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell attended the yacht party on Romney's behalf. After visiting with the donors, McDonnell stopped to speak with ABC News about the event. He said he had no problem with the fundraising efforts, because they were consistent with the campaign finance laws today.

"Four years ago Barack Obama raised twice as much as the Republicans and this year I think it's going to be an even finance approach to this thing," McDonnell said. "Both sides are going to have equal money to get the message out."

The latest numbers show Romney outpacing Obama in fundraising. The joint fund-raising committee for Romney reported $185.9 million in cash on hand at the end of July, compared to $123.7 million for Obama's joint committee.

McDonnell said that he would favor efforts to require donors to identify themselves, even if they are not required to do so in some circumstances today. "I'd like to see more sunshine on both side … I think that's fair," he said. "When people look at what reforms are needed, I'd like to see more sunshine."

While Koch had the most public presence of the major supporters in Tampa, he has been equally restrained when approached for an interview. Outside a well known Tampa steakhouse, Koch was asked about his role in raising money for the campaign. He hustled to his car silently, a bodyguard jostling the ABC News camera crew that followed.

The billionaire delegate from New York was equally restrained with his remarks around reporters on the convention floor. Earlier this year, Huffington Post reported that he told a conservative gathering in California that he would commit $10 million to seeing President Obama defeated.

How much he has actually given, though, may never be known. Much of his political spending appears to be routed through nonprofit groups, most notably the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, that are not required to disclose their funders.


After this report first appeared, Americans for Prosperity pulled the credentials for ABC News to cover the reception it's holding this afternoon at the RNC.

An official with the group called to rescind the invitation shortly after ABC News published a report noting that Koch refused to discuss his campaign spending.

"We're concerned the coverage will be focused purely on the money and politics story regarding the Kochs," said Americans for Prosperity spokesman Levi Russell.

The group is scheduled to hold a reception called, "A Salute To Entrepreneurs Building America." Koch is being honored at the event.

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