States try to tackle ‘dark money’ groups

Posted by AzblueMeanie:

The Los Angeles Times reports, States try to tackle 'secret money' in politics:

Early last month, state lawyers and election officials around the
country dialed into a conference call to talk about how to deal with the
flood of secret money that played an unprecedented role in the 2012
election.

The discussion, which included officials from California,
New York, Alaska and Maine, was a first step toward a collaborative
effort to force tax-exempt advocacy organizations and trade associations
out of the shadows.

* * *

"There is no question that one of the reasons to have states working
together is because the federal government, in numerous arenas, has
failed to take action," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of California's Fair
Political Practices Commission, who organized the call with officials
from about 10 states. [The reporting does not disclose whether Arizona was one of the 10 states.]

Advocates for disclosure say it is essential for the public to know who
is trying to influence elections. But opponents say making donors public
would infringe on their privacy and could intimidate some from
participating in politics.

OK, this tired old trope is complete bullshit. If i donate $5 to a clean elections candidate, or contribute to a campaign or political organization, or pay for a fundraising dinner, etc., my name and contribution gets recorded on a publicly available disclosure. What we are talking about here are millionaires and billionaires who want to hide behind the veil of secrecy of a tax exempt organization so their identity and the amount of their contribution are not publicly disclosed. These are cockroaches who want to hide in the shadows. it is a corruption of the democratic political process, and has nothing whatsoever to do with free speech or the right of privacy. This is just one set of rules for the über-rich plutocratic elites, and another set of rules for the rest of us.

For now, state officials who participated in the conference call are
sharing information on their campaign finance regulations and
experiences with advocacy groups in their states. But the agencies may
move to team up on investigations and work together to pressure federal
agencies to do more.

The push by state regulators comes as scrutiny of nonprofit groups is
gaining new attention at the federal level. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.) plans to use his influential post as head of the Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations to press for greater oversight of these
groups. And the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a rule to require publicly traded corporations to reveal their political donations.

* * *

"I have no reason to believe this is going to be easy," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who unveiled a bipartisan disclosure bill with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last month. She is the first GOP senator to sponsor such a measure in recent years; it is not clear whether other Republicans will come aboard.

"Unless both sides realize that disclosure is important to all of us, it's not going to happen," Murkowski said.

* * *

State officials criticize multiple federal entities as failing to respond swiftly to the new environment. The Internal Revenue Service
has asked some nonprofits for more information about their activities,
but has not indicated whether it has launched any formal investigations.
And measures to compel disclosure have stalled in Congress and at the Federal Election Commission.

In California, the Fair Political Practices Commission recently
issued a series of subpoenas as part of an investigation to uncover the
source of $11million involved in two ballot measures last fall
.

The money passed from Americans for Job Security, a Virginia
nonprofit, to the Center to Protect Patient Rights in Arizona [led by GOP consultant Sean Noble, which is a conduit for campaign contributions from the "Kochtopus"], to
another Arizona nonprofit called Americans for Responsible Leadership,
and then to the conservative Small Business Action Committee in
California.

The committee was working against Gov. Jerry Brown's
tax increase measure and in support of another measure intended to curb
the ability of unions to raise money for political activity. The source
of the money remains unknown.

Lawmakers in more than a dozen states have proposed legislation to force such groups to disclose their donors. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley
signed a measure Thursday requiring independent groups that make
election-related donations or expenditures of $6,000 or more in a
four-year election cycle to disclose information about their top donors.
It will take full effect in 2015.

An even more expansive effort is underway in New York, where Atty.
Gen. Eric Schneiderman plans to issue regulations by June to require
nonprofit groups that spend $10,000 or more on state and local elections
to detail their political expenditures and disclose donors who give
$1,000 or more.

"As long as Washington refuses to act, New York will serve as a model
in shining light on this dark corner of our political system and
protecting the integrity of nonprofits and our democracy," Schneiderman
said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Advocates on both sides expect the state measures will trigger
litigation. In the meantime, the moves are causing anxiety among
tax-exempt groups and their donors. [Boo-freakin'-hoo.]

* * *

"Perhaps some people don't like what we're doing, so they're trying to change the law," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the industrial billionaires Charles and David Koch.
The organization spent more than $190 million in the two-year 2012
cycle, according to Phillips, but was required to report only a fraction
of that sum.

The "Kochtopus" is centered right here in the state of Maricopa, but because Tea-Publican politicians are the beneficiaries of their dark money, there is no legislation for transparency and disclosure that can pass the Arizona legislature.

Our feckless Attorney General and Secretary of State turn a blind eye to the money laundering charges from the state of California against GOP consultant Sean Noble and the "Kochtopus" organizations centered in Arizona (Americans for Responsible Leadership was incorporated by current Arizona Republican Party Chair Robert Graham, and Eric Wnuk, a former GOP candidate for Congress, and former Speaker of the House Kirk Adams, also a former GOP candidate for Congress, sits on its board). Something is rotten in the state of Denmark Arizona, and the rot of corruption in the Republican Party goes from top to bottom.

The Arizona political media that does not investigate and expose this corruption is equally corrupt, and is a complict accomplice.

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