Sunday, November 3, 2013

Koch Network Groups Busted In California For $15 Million Dark Money Donations

After reading the previous post regarding the possibility that the Walkergate 2.0 investigation could very well include illegal collaboration and collusion between the election campaigns of Scott Walker and other Teapublicans and the third party groups funded by the Koch Brothers, the Bradley Foundation and the Sam Adams Alliance, a friend of Cog Dis forwarded this story from Mother Jones, which has eerily familiar:
On Thursday, the California attorney general and the state's top election watchdog named the "Koch brothers network" of donors and dark-money nonprofits as the true source of $15 million in secret donations made last year to influence two bitterly fought ballot propositions in California. State officials unmasked the Kochs' network as part of a settlement deal that ends a nearly year-long investigation into the source of the secret donations that flowed in California last fall.

As part of the deal, two Arizona-based nonprofits, the Koch-linked Center to Protect Patients Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership, admitted violating state election law. The settlement mandates that the two nonprofits pay a $1 million fine to California's general fund, and the committees who received the secret donations at the heart of the case must also cut a check to the state for the amount of those donations, which totaled $15.08 million.
The article goes on to say that the most of the names of the actual donors of all those millions of dollars were able to be kept dark due to loopholes in the law (thank you ALEC and Citizens United) but did reveal some of them, including investment guru Bernard Shaw and Gap chairman Bob Fisher.

The article also has a screencap of an email from the fundraiser to Charles Koch. I could easily see one like that coming from Team Walker or WISGOP in order to get money for messaging, especially during the recalls.

As for how they did it, MJ does a very capable job of explaining it:
By October 2012, Russo had steered nearly $29 million for his Props. 30 and 32 advocacy campaign to Americans for Job Security. But there was a problem. Election day was less than two months away, and the way campaign law works, the standards for disclosing donors get tougher within that two-month window. So, out of fear that its donors could somehow be revealed, AJS and its lawyers took precautions, choosing to funnel the money through the Center to Protect Patients Rights, which was run by Sean Noble, who was then the primary outside consultant and strategist to the Koch brothers' national donor network. The settlement documents indicate that AJS made three, no-strings-attached donations to Noble's group: $4.05 million on September 10, 2012, $14 million October 11, 2012, and $6.5 million.

Here, the money trail forks into two trails. In one direction, CPPR gave $7 million to a nonprofit called the American Future Fund, which in turn passed $4.08 million of that to a subsidiary in California. That subsidiary, the California Future Fund for Free Markets, finally spent the money on influencing Props. 30 and 32.

In the second direction, CPPR directed $13 million to its Arizona neighbor, Americans for Responsible Leadership. ARL then passed $11 million of that money to the Small Business Action Committee in Sacramento, which spent the money influencing Props. 30 and 32.

Here's the bottom line: A California fundraiser raised a boatload of money. He shuffled it through a network of secretly funded nonprofit groups to hide the donors' identities. And when the money finally arrived in California in time to influence the 2012 elections, the fingerprints on the money had been thoroughly scrubbed off—and in the process, the operatives masterminding this scheme had broken the law.
Again, this is something that I could easily see them do here in Wisconsin, especially during the recalls, when there were more stunts pulled than any one group could watch.  It would not take any stretch of the imagination to see groups like MacIver Institute, Americans for Prosperity and/or Citizens for Responsible Government to take advantage of the crazy times to do something like this.

This could get very interesting indeed.


  1. OK. So these groups get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. So what. They pay a fine? Money is not a problem for them. Walker is still in office. No one goes to jail. Cost of doing business. Doesn't seem like even a conviction will make them stop.

  2. All to often, especially with all the wealth these people have, fines are the cost of doing business and acts of treason and deceit. One has to wonder though, if their shareholders dividends are ever affected by such activity.

  3. Conservatives in Cali are A-holes like everywhere else, but they are OUR A-holes...keep your Koch$ out of them. :)