Why are Romney SuperPac Donors Shy?

Today, NPR has a story tracking down a $1 million dollar Romney SuperPac donor who used a false company name to obscure his identity. The donor? Steven Lund, one of the founders of Provo, Utah-based NuSkin, a multilevel marketing cosmetics company.

NPR remarked on the “Go down the list of people who have given a million dollars to a superPAC, and you realize many of them are not shy about their wealth.” But not so for this particular Romney donor.

Why? Wealth means status in the world of Mormonism, as it does just about everywhere else. But Mormon culture and church tradition emphasize privacy and even anonymity in giving. There are no “named giving opportunities,” no plaques bearing donor names affixed to Mormon chapels or temples. Plates are not passed down the row during Sunday services. Donations happen privately: pre-printed envelopes and donation slips handed quietly to the local bishop on Sunday morning, or in private meetings, or online. People may know who the big givers are in Mormon communities, but it would be a breach of cultural etiquette to advertise one’s own contributions.

Mormons listening to the NPR report would have likely chuckled to hear the familiar name of the Provo-based NuSkin corporation. NuSkin even launched the career of Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who started as a Nu-Skin intern and rose to the ranks of company spokesman before beginning his political career.

Seeking other Mormon niche industry donors among the SuperPac contributors? As followers on my Twitter feed pointed out, don’t stop with NuSkin. Look for pest control and alarm systems companies—which conventionally hire large numbers of Mormon returned missionaries to go door-to-door, nutritional supplement companies like Melaluca, makers of modest clothing, and food storage or disaster preparedness companies.

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