When the American Future Fund contributed $4 million to a committee supporting Prop 32 and opposing Prop 30, voters knew the money was connected, in some vague sense, to the Koch Brothers. That group at least had some history to look back upon, and while the relationship wasn't perfectly clear, the Koch connections were there.
However, when an $11 million check floated down from a hitherto obscure group, “Americans for Responsible Leadership,” (ARL) the source was a complete mystery. The group also was in a fight against Top 2 primaries, and some of the board had GOP connections. But, the source of the money was far from clear. The Fair Political Practices Commission, California's campaign finance regulator, sued for information on where the money came from. ARL fought like the dickens, even taking the court to the United States Supreme Court before reluctantly handing over the information this morning.
And here's what we have: 2 more “non-profits.” According to SacBee's Capitol Alert:
The state's campaign watchdog agency accused an Arizona nonprofit of “money laundering” to donate $11 million this month and announced that two other nonprofits – Americans for Job Security and The Center to Protect Patient Rights – routed the money.
Needless to say, FPPC Chair Ann Ravel was none too impressed with this development and called the arrangement money laundering. Here's an FPPC quote about it:
Under California law, the failure to disclose this initially was campaign money laundering. At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history.
But just who are these groups anyway? Well, OpenSecrets has a pretty nice writeup about the Center for Patient Rights:
And if its donors are unknown, so is much else about CPPR. According to its own 2010 tax return, which was filed last November, it is run by Sean Noble, who is listed as its director, president and executive director. Noble describes himself on his Twitter account as a “PR/Political consultant, conservative strategist/operative, former GOP Hill chief of staff, blogger, proud father, fighting for liberty.” Noble was chief-of-staff to former Republican Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, for whom he worked for 13 years, and since then has worked as a political consultant and in public relations. …
Noble did not return our calls seeking comment. But in a piece last year, Politico described Noble as a “Koch operative,” referring to the wealthy conservative brothers from Koch Industries who have been instrumental in funding a conservative network of groups. … (OpenSecrets)
And guess who received over $11 million in support from CPPR in the 2010 cycle? Why, none other than the American Future Fund. And everything comes back around. Quite the campaign finance merry-go-round in support of a measure that purports to be campaign finance reform.
However, as leading good government groups, like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause have said, Prop 32 is not real political reform. And so instead, strange money continues to flow to fight for a deceptive measure, and against a measure that is vitally important to our schools. Layer after layer…