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The presence of multiple pro-Romney PACs, not all in harmony, underscores the unpredictable role such PACs may play in 2012. Candidates have no control over the messages of PACs that by law must operate independently, election lawyers note, and in some cases such outside efforts can hurt candidates more than help.
Separately, an array of state PACs affiliated with Romney have drawn criticism in recent days. Before announcing his candidacy June 2, Romney got a boost from state PACs in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Such PACs are controversial because they operate under a patchwork of disclosure and contribution limits. In Alabama, state PACs may raise large corporate donations banned at the federal level.
On July 14, the New Hampshire and Alabama Democratic parties filed an FEC complaint alleging that Romney's state PACs are raising nonfederal money in violation of election laws. The complaint amended an initial complaint filed in April, saying the PACs may still be running. The Romney campaign could not be reached for comment, but a Romney spokesman told the Washington Post that the complaint is "pathetic," without merit and politically motivated.