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US election's largest corporate donor a mystery firm: report

Specialty Group Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee donated $19 million to FreedomWorks. Is it a front, asks the Center for Public Integrity?

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The November 6, 2012 US presidential election pits Democratic candidate President Barack Obama, left, against Republican candidate Mitt Romney, right. (Marc Serota/AFP/Getty Images)

The Center for Public Integrity today said the largest corporate contributor to the US election, Specialty Group Inc., is low-profile to the point of being a total mystery, reported NBC News

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The Tennessee-based company was established only a month ago but has emerged as the "biggest and most mysterious" election backer, donating $19 million to the right-of-center FreedomWorks for America organization, according to the watchdog group's Michael Beckel and Reity O’Brien, writing for NBC. 

The mystery company also gave a massive amount -- $5.3 million -- between October 1 and October 11, according to center research

As for the firm, it's pretty unclear how they generate any income. "It has no website," Beck and O'Brien reported. "And the only name associated with it is that of its registered agent, a lawyer whose phone number, listed in a legal directory, is disconnected." The Associated Press knocked on the door of the company's Knoxville registered owner, William S. Rose, but he did not answer. The company has declined requests for comment. 

Political contributions to political action committees, called super PACS, are a heated subject in America following a controversial 2010 rule that allowed the expansion of such activities. Some argue they should be banned, while others support them as a legitimate form of civic campaigning. 

The Center for Responsive Politics said such organizations have spent a total of $628,930,456 on 2012 election-related activities. 

FreedomWorks for America, for example, has spent over $19 million on political advertising, some of it focused on congressional elections, according to Beckel and O’Brien.

Various unknown groups are also supporting President Barack Obama's campaign for re-election by way of huge contributions, according to the Associated Press, noting that such "groups are organized under the tax code, not through the Federal Election Commission, and don't have to reveal their donors." 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121105/us-elections-largest-corporate-donor-mystery-fir