The Federal Election Commission is raising questions about a former lobbyist who says he plans to start what amounts to a campaign finance business by registering dozens of new political action committees and hiring a large staff to manage them.
During a one-month period covering late October and early November, Josue Larose filed papers to open 60 PACs representing an unusual group of special interests ranging from "softball players" to "economic elites."
If allowed to stand, his new committees, which so far have not raised a dime, would make the Deerfield Beach, Fla. resident one of the biggest PAC directors registered with the FEC. But the agency and campaign watchdog groups want more details about his committees, including why some of the entities he purports to represent don't appear to exist.
So far Larose has answered 39 letters from the FEC requesting more information. In response to FEC concerns Larose has provided IRS employer identification numbers for many of his newly created organizations, a move apparently aimed at convincing the agency that he is not trying to hide anything and is serious about his fundraising efforts.
"I have the numbers from the IRS," said Larose, a former lobbyist who says he intends to run for governor of Florida in 2010 or possibly Democrat Bill Nelson's Senate seat in 2012. Larose has also filed papers to run for president as a Republican in 2012.
In a phone interview, Larose said he plans to begin raising money soon and hire a large staff to manage his 60 fundraising committees. He also said he plans to open a number of Web sites now under construction that will be tied to his PACs so that contributions can be solicited and accepted online.
"When you have so many PACs, you can contribute more and more to the candidates," he said.
Although Larose's PAC coffers may be empty at the moment, it's not unusual for a single individual to be listed with the FEC as the treasurer of dozens of different committees.
For example, FEC records show that longstanding political operatives for both the Republican and Democratic parties control as many as 60 different committees serving as treasurers. But what separates Larose from the others is that the organizations he has registered appear to be constructs of his own making, including 20 new nonprofits listing him as president. Other professional treasurers registered with the FEC work for various candidates and parties, and have not created any of the organizations they represent.
Paul S. Ryan, director of the Campaign Legal Center's FEC program, said he is still "baffled" by Larose's PACs and believes the agency "was wise to request more information" from him.
While there are no laws against a single individual registering multiple PACs, there is a law that limits the amount of contributions committees controlled by the same individual can make to candidates, parties or other PACs. If the FEC determines that Larose is actually in control of all 60 committees, then any donations made from them would be treated as a contribution from one entity, which would severely limit the amount of money that could be given to any one candidate or group.