“It’s ‘CSI: D.C.’ trying to figure out who these PACs belong to,” Ritsch said. “There is no reason why the public or those who follow money in politics should have to become detectives to learn about leadership PACs.”
Neither group has Mack’s fund listed. After organizing in early summer, the PAC spent months with no money in its coffers. Then, in late October and early November, it collected $17,000, with $11,000 of that coming from Hooters executives. The account later refunded $1,000 in excessive contributions from one of the execs.
Only two of those donors — Edward Droste and David Lageschulte — also contributed to Mack’s re-election campaign. Droste, who listed himself as an executive with Hooters Management Corp. when he cut a check to the leadership PAC, identified himself as president of the Provident Companies on three checks worth a total of $5,900 he wrote to Mack’s re-election campaign. For both contributions he made, Lageschulte listed himself as an executive with LTP Management, the company Mack worked for and an owner of a number of Hooters restaurants.
Mack has reason not to brag about the support of his former colleagues. His affiliation with Hooters at times has proved a political liability. In his first race for the Florida state House, his Democratic opponent used the work in attacks on Mack’s party-boy past, which included some barroom fights and brushes with the law.
Cohen, his chief of staff, said setting up the leadership PAC was “not at all” an attempt to obscure the source of the lawmaker’s funds.
“It’s no secret that before being elected to Congress, Connie worked for a company called LTP in Fort Myers that owns a number of restaurants, including Hooters,” he said. “We’ve followed whatever the law requires the PAC to do. ... In terms of the way it was rolled out, the paperwork was filed accordingly, the PAC came into existence, and those involved have been following the rules ever since.”
He said he was unsure whether his boss would support the Jones bill without having read the language. It currently has no co-sponsors.