Jon Huntsman Jr., left, and his father, Jon Huntsman Sr. (Credit: AP/Douglas C. Pizac)
Today we are finally learning who bankrolls the super PACs that have been dominating the Republican primary, as they file Federal Election Commission reports detailing their finances. The groups managed to exploit a loophole to delay their disclosures until today, after several key primaries and caucuses have already been held.
As of this writing, the filings of the super PACs backing Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have not yet appeared on the FEC’s website. But we have learned something about the pro-Jon Huntsman group, Our Destiny PAC: It was funded primarily by Huntsman’s father, Jon Huntsman Sr.
Huntsman Sr. is the founder and chairman of the Huntsman Corp., a giant chemical company, and he was on Forbes’ list of the 1,000 richest people in the world in 2010.
Huntsman Sr. provided a steady flow of contributions to Our Destiny PAC totaling about $1.9 million, which was given in seven chunks. That was 70 percent of the $2.7 million the group raised. The rest of the money came from just 17 other donors, including two members of the Walton family, which has made a fortune from Walmart.
That money allowed Our Destiny PAC to run ads like this one from New Hampshire, which labeled Mitt Romney a “chameleon”:
Huntsman has, of course, since dropped out of the race and endorsed Romney.
Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin