Press Releases

ICYMI: Pro-Sheehy Group Funded by Dark Money from Potential Straw Donor Scheme

May 13, 2024

Last week, OpenSecrets exposed that a pro-Sheehy super PAC has been funded by dark money from a shell company that may have violated campaign finance law, according to a new FEC complaint. By using a ‘straw donor’ scheme, the shell company was able to shield the source of the contributions, keeping voters in the dark.

“Montanans have a right to know who—or what corporate special interests—are spending large amounts of out-of-state money in their elections, but this pro-Tim Sheehy PAC wants to keep them in the dark,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “The difference between Senator Tester and Transplant Tim couldn’t be more stark. As Senator Tester fights for a more transparent and accountable government, Sheehy is backed by dark money groups that are willing to violate campaign finance laws for their own end-goal.”

OpenSecretsShell company steering $2.6 million to Republican PACs raises concerns of illicit funding scheme

Jimmy Cloutier

Key sections:

  • A complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleges that a shell company with ties to the former chief financial officer of the Republican State Leadership Committee illegally steered nearly $2.6 million to half a dozen political committees.

  • The Campaign Legal Center argues that Ardleigh Impact does not appear to have conducted any business activity from which it could have generated enough money to make the donations and alleges that whoever is behind the company violated federal law by using it as a “straw donor” to hide the identity of the true contributor. Federal campaign finance regulations have long recognized that it is illegal for anyone to make a political contribution under a false name or in the name of someone else, including an incorporated entity.

  • Such schemes have long been illegal, but they have become increasingly common since the Supreme Court struck down restrictions on corporate political spending in Citizens United v. FEC, according to watchdog groups.

  • Nearly one out of every 10 dollars raised by super PACs this election cycle have come from corporate coffers, including millions of dollars that lead back to opaque and hard-to-trace shell companies, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of federal campaign finance reports. 

  • In February, the three-month-old company funneled $150,000 to AFC Victory Fund, a super PAC behind efforts to elect candidates who favor school voucher programs. Another $200,000 went to More Jobs, Less Government, a super PAC backing Tim Sheehy’s U.S. Senate bid to unseat Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) in Montana.

  • The following month, the Ardleigh Impact steered $700,000 to Defend Ohio Values and $625,000 to Buckeye Leadership Fund […]. It also donated $500,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans’ main PAC, and $400,000 to Conservatives for American Excellence, which seeks to defeat Republican candidates aligned with members of the hardline Freedom Caucus.

  • Incorporation records do not provide an address for Ardleigh Impact, but the address listed in federal campaign finance reports is a home in Springfield, Va. that belongs to Michael Goede and Staci Goede, according to Fairfax County property records.