Charles Schwab writing big checks to conservative PACs 

Fair Oaks Finance LLC popped up on the presidential campaign radar late last month when the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future disclosed a donation of $250,000 from the Hamilton-based company. The contribution was one of several listed without any donor identity, raising questions about whom the cash came from.

The better question for Montanans might be: What exactly is Fair Oaks Finance?

The company shares a physical address in Hamilton with Henderson and Associates PLLC, an accounting and tax preparation firm. A call to Henderson and Associates, however, turned up no information on Fair Oaks.

According to records from the Montana Secretary of State, Fair Oaks Finance's principal agent is none other than Charles R. Schwab, the self-made investment-broker billionaire who owns a cabin in the Bitterroot Valley. Schwab—ranked 58 on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans—has been a major financial player in federal races for years. He and his wife Helen were ranked by Mother Jones among the top 75 contributors to Republican campaigns in 1998.

The current electoral cycle has been a big one for Schwab. The $250,000 donation from Fair Oaks came on top of two separate $125,000 personal contributions to Restore Our Future—one from Schwab and one from his wife. Schwab has maxed-out his allowable personal donations to Romney's presidential campaign, a total of $5,000, and has donated nearly $100,000 to various GOP candidates and national Republican committees. One of those Republican beneficiaries is Congressman Denny Rehberg, whose Senate-race coffers boast $5,000 of Schwab's money.

Not all of Schwab's political contributions are winding up in conservative pockets, however. Federal disclosure records for the Charles Schwab Corporation's own PAC show a number of disbursements to Democratic candidates, including California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

As for Fair Oaks Finance, we're still in the dark on what the company actually does. A representative from the Charles Schwab Corporation couldn't offer the Indy any answers, since Schwab's Hamilton company isn't their business.

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