Romney donor bashed by Obama campaign now target of two federal audits

An Idaho businessman singled out by the Obama campaign for giving $1 million in support of Mitt Romney is now the focus of IRS and Labor Department audits.

Frank VanderSloot, in an interview with on Tuesday, said he received the initial audit notice from the IRS last month. Two weeks later, he got one from the Labor Department stating the agency would be looking into records related to foreign employees working at his Idaho Falls cattle ranch.

It might all be a coincidence, he said -- but the timing was peculiar.

VanderSloot gave the pro-Romney money last year to the super PAC “Restore of Future.” Then in April, he was identified along with seven other donors on an Obama campaign website as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”

At the time, VanderSloot spoke out and accused the campaign of targeting him unfairly. Then came the audits.

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“It seems coincidental, but who knows,” VanderSloot told Tuesday. “The problem is the president made the list, and 61 days later I get the first letter. One has to ask: Is the fact I’m being shot at the result of having a target on my back? … Was the list made with that intent?”

VanderSloot expected some scrutiny, considering he is a co-chairman on the Romney campaign, and years of contributing to state and national races had already exposed him to the rough-and-tumble world of politics.

He has also been targeted by liberal bloggers and an opposition research team that directed an investigator to poke around his local courthouse, looking at divorce records and other cases.

Yet VanderSloot, owner of the Melaleuca wellness product company,  never expected to be branded on an presidential campaign website as a “litigious, combative and bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”

“I had never heard anybody say that,” said VanderSloot, who speculated the anti-gay claim is largely the result of him about 13 years ago opposing the film “It’s Elementary -- Talking about Gay Issues in School” airing on public TV because it was not suitable for viewing by young children.

“Ninety percent of my gay friends agreed,” he said.

VanderSloot was prescient in his public comments after appearing on the list, musing on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” about whether the list was perhaps a tip-sheet for media critics or federal agencies.

“Am I going to get a call from the FDA … or the IRS?” he said Tuesday, echoing his comments from the show.

Still, the 63-year-old VanderSloot doesn’t think President Obama directly ordered the audits, because simply allowing the so-called "enemy list" to be posted on the original “Keeping GOP Honest” site was enough.

“I doubt he said, ‘Let’s get these guys,’ ” VanderSloot said.

The Obama campaign did not return an email seeking comment. Representatives from the IRS and Labor Department also did not return requests for comment.

The documents requested by the IRS have been turned over to his accountant, VanderSloot said, and the Labor Department audit is just getting started, but he will fully comply and expects no problems.

"I’m not worried,” he said. “We’ll be fine.”

VanderSloot also said the scrutiny has only strengthened his commitment to stay engaged in the political system.

“I am not going to stay away,” he said. “This has given me even more resolve that we need a new president.”