His name is William Rose. He is a resident of Knoxville, Tenn. And a company he formed on Sept. 26 currently holds the title of biggest corporate contributor in the 2012 election, according to The Center for Public Integrity, thanks to the nearly $5.3 million the company gave to a prominent conservative super PAC between Oct. 1 and Oct. 11.
The fact that one of his company’s first orders of business was giving away several million dollars has earned Rose some unwanted attention. And on Monday, The Knoxville News Sentinel published a six-page press release written by Rose, dated Nov. 3, written in the first person, and intended, in the author’s words, “to address various media reports and inquiries related to Specialty Group, Inc. and its recent contributions to FreedomWorks of America, Inc.”
“I am the CEO, President and General Counsel of Specialty Group,” Rose wrote in the release. “I am also a member of the Board of Directors. Specialty Group is not, as has been insinuated in the media, a ‘shadowy’ entity or an ‘unregistered’ (and therefore, unlawful) political action committee. Specialty Group is a Tennessee corporation formed to buy, sell, develop and invest in a variety of real estate ventures and investments. Although the entity was only recently formed, Specialty Group is developing land that my family has owned for over 50 years and pursuing investment opportunities that I’ve worked on for the past several years.”
According to the News Sentinel, Rose gave the document to a reporter during a meeting Saturday at a Panera Bread restaurant in Knoxville, a meeting at which Rose declined to answer additional questions. The paper also reports that the Knoxville City Council “recently approved the purchase of property on Ledgerwood Avenue that is owned by a trust whose trustee is Rose. According to the city, the property is a chronic blight offender.”
In the press release, Rose described himself as a “disappointed, yet staunchly patriotic, Baby Boomer,” as well as a single father “rearing a couple of young sons, trying to make a living in this cratered economy.” (He has been described in reports as an attorney, but the Tennessee Bar Association does not list a William Rose among its members.) Rose railed against the Obama administration’s responses to the December 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the Fast and Furious scandal, and the recent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“Common sense - a notion seemingly lost in 2012 American politics - tells me that if the Obama administration had a truthful, reasonable explanation for Agent Terry’s death and for the attacks and resulting casualties in Benghazi, the administration and its political operatives would run post-haste to every microphone, town hall, and political rally to laud the leadership of the President and his team,” Rose wrote. “Silence on these issues can only mean one thing, namely, the administration must hide the truth from the American people until after the election.”
Rose expressed surprise that anyone would be interested in “my opinion in regard to these matters, but I’ve been besieged for an ‘explanation’ of why Specialty Group has
donated its money in a particular legal fashion.” He maintained that he had no reason to answer the questions being asked of him:
I just want to be left alone by the prying media who seem hell bent on asking a private citizen about private facts, rather than asking the President, the Vice President, and other administration officials about ‘what they knew’ and ‘when did they know it’ in regard to ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ and the attacks in Benghazi.
With this said, Specialty Group is a private corporation which uses private capital for lawful business, social, and political purposes, as specifically addressed by the 2010 United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case and later, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case, Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission.
A couple of reporters who have contacted me have suggested that I have
some ‘duty’ to disclose otherwise private information. No such ‘duty’ exists.
The document ends in a perhaps unintentionally mysterious way. After relating a story from his youth, the time when his father confided in Rose how much was paid each month to rent their house, Rose wrote that “[t]he business of Specialty Group is my ‘family secret,’ a secret that will be kept — as allowed by applicable law — for at least another 50 years.”
Read Rose’s whole release here:
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com