Gage Skidmore/FlickrRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
In a gated community in Northern California’s Lake County, a new Mitt Romney super political action committee is emerging.
But Republican Party leaders in this scenic region 110 miles north of San Francisco say they don’t know anything about it.
In interviews, Lake County party officials said they have never heard of Accomplish Our Mission, the pro-Romney super PAC established last month in Hidden Valley Lake, a development south of Clear Lake. GOP leaders also couldn't recall encountering Terry Lee Smith, 53, the low-profile local man who set up the new political committee.
Accomplish Our Mission is the fourth and latest super PAC thought to be supporting Romney's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Help us do more.
According to federal election rules, these committees can collect and spend unlimited funds as long as their electioneering is independent of Romney’s campaign.
Up to now, Smith and his new super PAC have been flying under Lake County’s radar, local party leaders said in phone interviews.
“I never heard of him,” said Shirley Hendrickson, chairwoman of the county's Republican Central Committee. Of Accomplish Our Mission, she said, “I have not heard of it or anything. Actually, I haven’t seen anything going on with any of the (presidential) candidates.”
Mark Cabaniss, Hendrickson's predecessor as GOP county chairman, said: “I can’t say I ever heard of the guy.” Regarding the PAC, he said, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Lake County, population 75,000, isn’t exactly Romney country. Voter registration tilts Democratic. The last Republican to carry the county in a presidential contest was Ronald Reagan in 1984. So far in this election cycle, nobody from Lake County has donated any money to Romney, according to a review of federal records.
Smith, who lists himself as Accomplish Our Mission’s treasurer, isn’t registered to vote in Lake County, records show. Nobody named Terry Smith from Lake County has donated money in any federal or state election, according to a search of computerized records going back a decade.
Records indicate Smith moved to Hidden Valley Lake in 2004. For a time, his home also served as a business address for RMT Aviation America, a company that sold custom private aircraft built in Germany. Its phone has been disconnected.
Lake County Supervisor Jim Comstock, whose district includes Hidden Valley Lake, said he remembered Smith, but was surprised to hear he was still in the area.
“He used to live here,” Comstock said in a phone interview. “But I thought he had moved away a couple of years ago.”
He said Smith was involved in selling “some sort of experimental civilian aircraft.” Smith was “not particularly” politically active, Comstock recalled. He said he didn't know about the super PAC. "This is the first I have heard of it,“ Comstock said.
Smith and Accomplish Our Mission couldn't be reached. Accomplish-our-mission.org, a website mentioned in Federal Election Commission filings, hasn’t been set up yet, and the voicemail on the PAC’s telephone number has a full mailbox. Meanwhile, an alternate address for the PAC comes back to a “virtual office” suite in Salt Lake City. The voicemail there doesn’t accept messages, either. E-mails sent by California Watch to an address associated with the PAC’s website got no response.
Smith gave a brief interview last month to the website Politico. "We just feel that in light of what Barack Obama is doing to the country, Mitt Romney can use all the support we can give him," he was quoted as saying.
The biggest Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, already has spent more than $30 million this primary season, most of it on hard-edged television commercials targeting Romney rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
As California Watch has reported, California donors have pumped more than $2.3 million into Restore Our Future.
Citizens for a Working America, a Virginia-based super PAC, is also thought to have begun supporting Romney since U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race, the Center for Public Integrity has reported. That PAC spent more than $400,000 last year on other campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but information on donors isn’t available.
A third Romney super PAC, the Republican Truth Squad PAC, was set up by a Georgia man. It hasn’t made any expenditures.
As the Los Angeles Times has reported, super PAC founders sometimes get paid big money by the committees they set up.
In January, the Red White and Blue Fund, the main super PAC supporting Santorum, paid more than $500,000 to a direct-mail company owned by Nick Ryan, the Red White and Blue Fund’s founder.
That’s only possible when a PAC has generated some contributions. So far, nobody has donated to Accomplish Our Mission.