The biggest donor to the Romney Super PAC was Bob Perry, most well-known for funding the Swift Boat ads that helped defeat Sen. John Kerry in 2004, notes The Washington Post's Aaron Blake, who made the good catch while looking through the latest FEC filings. Perry, a Texan home builder, gave $3 million to Mitt Romney's Super PAC "Restore our Future" last month. He's most famous, Blake notes, for the $4.5 million he gave to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a well-funded group of veterans who very effectively called into question John Kerry's Vietnam war record during the 2004 election. The connection seems fitting as Restore our Future already has a reputation for devastatingly effective onslaughts of ad buys that bring down Romney's various opponents in the Republican primaries. Those who feared the effect the Super PACs would have on this year's presidential campaign often pointed to the Swift Boat attacks as an example of the way nominally independent groups with no funding restrictions that are obviously advocating for a certain candidate could unduly effect elections. In a New Yorker article about attack ads from February Bob Shrum, a strategist for the Kerry campaign said of the Swift Boat campaign, "It was independent? Ha-ha. It gave Bush what I call 'implausible deniability.'"
Fast forward eight years, when we see all kinds of implausible deniability claims in the wake of brutal ads funded by Super PACs, which, of course, must technically operate without advice from the campaigns. (That doesn't stop them from being filled with a candidate's former associates.) Indeed, now that Perry can claim responsibility for both the Swift Boat campaign and much of what Romney's Super PAC puts out in the coming months, he'll provide opponents of the Super PAC laws with a convenient human link between the two.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.