Sen. Michele Reagan’s dark money disclosure bill will accomplish little

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Arizona Republic will never admit they were shamed into doing it by my constantly berating them for not reporting on Sean Noble and the "Kochtopus" dark money network operating in their own backyard in the state of Maricopa. But I am going to claim a small victory anyway.

Today the Arizona Republic published the entire report by Pro Publica at azcentral.com. The Dark Money Man: Sean Noble, Koch cash and politics. (Note that this is not by Arizona Republic reporters).

This small victory comes the day after Sen. Michele Reagan's half-measure for dark money campaign finance disclosures was heard in her Elections Committee on Tuesday. Reagan's bill is a band-aid approach to close a gaping wound in Arizona elections. Lawmakers seek to shine light on anonymous campaign contributions:

Screenshot from 2013-10-25 06:22:06State lawmakers took the first steps Tuesday to cut down on so-called “dark money’’ in political campaigns, but with no clear indication if their plan will work, or whether it’s even legal.

Legislation approved by the Senate Elections Committee requires all campaign commercials, literature and similar materials to include the names of the three largest contributors. Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, said it’s unacceptable that people can spend large amounts of money to influence elections and remain hidden.

On paper, the vote for SB 1403 was unanimous. But several GOP legislators, after hearing from lobbyists, said they fear the measure creates unnecessary hurdles.

And Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, openly worried requiring people to get out from behind the committees they create to affect elections might chill their First Amendment rights to speak freely.

DeathStarYou can always identify the politicians who are owned by the "Kochtopus" Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which opposes any regulations on the ability of the plutocracy to buy elections. They are the politicians who parrot the "money = speech" formulation of former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), and assert that any disclosure requirements for plutocrat contributors will have a "chilling effect" on their free speech.

(Please note that your free speech being completely obliterated by the millions of dollars spent by plutocrat millionaires and billionaires is of no concern to the "Kochtopus" Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, or to Tea-Publicans).

Attorney Mike Liburdi, one of the lawyers/lobbysists for the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust (which the the Pro Publica report above reveals was funded by the "Kochtopus" dark money network), and who is also one of the lawyers representing the Arizona Republican Party and Tea-Publican legislators in the three lawsuits challenging redistricting by the AIRC, testified that individuals are free to exercise their First Amendment rights anonymously.

“Disclosure of some of these speakers may result in a chilling effect,” Liburdi said. “And this chilling effect could suppress speech.”

He represents the Arizona Victory Alliance, which spent more than $475,000 in independent expenditures last election to elect Republicans and defeat Democrats. Much of that cash came from other political action committees and organizations.

The majority opinion in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) actually held that disclosure requirements are constitutional, reasoning that disclosure is justified by a "governmental interest" in providing the "electorate with information" about election-related spending resources. The Court also upheld the disclosure requirements for political advertising sponsors.

So the "Kochtopus" Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, and the Arizona GOP's Michael Liburdi are actually taking an extreme position far to the right of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC.

Howard Fischer points out in his report, "The problem is there has been a proliferation of independent campaign committees, especially in the wake of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to influence elections. But any campaign reports filed — and not all of them do — list their donors as yet other organizations." This is why Sen. Reagan's band-aid approach to campaign finance disclosure will accomplish little.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said it doesn’t stop there, with those organizations listing still other groups with nebulous names as contributors. Bennett compared the system to Russian nesting dolls.

We already have a real-world example of this from the California Fair Political Practices Commission investigation last year into Sean Noble's Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR) "money laundering" for two nonprofits operated as part of the "Koch Brothers' Network" of dark money political nonprofit corporations. California Fair Political Practices Commission Press Release:

The case was initiated after the FPPC and Attorney General filed suit against ARL prior to the November 2012 election to provide records to ensure the source of an $11 million contribution from ARL, an Arizona nonprofit with no history of political activity in California, was properly disclosed to California voters. The day before the election, ARL disclosed that Americans for Job Security (AJS) and CPPR were the source and intermediary, respectively, of the $11 million contribution to the Small Business Action Committee (SBAC), a California independent expenditure committee.

This resulted in a joint investigation by the FPPC and the Attorney General's office that revealed that CPPR, the key nonprofit in the Koch Brothers' dark money network of nonprofit corporations, was actually the source of two major contributions that were not properly reported. The first was a $4.08 million contribution to the California Future Fund (CFF), made through the American Future Fund (AFF) as an intermediary on September 11, 2012. The second was the $11 million contribution made to SBAC through ARL as an intermediary on October 15, 2012.

Sen. Reagan's bill "to include the names of the three largest contributors" will only result, at best, in the disclosure of "Kochtopus" alphabet soup 501(c) organizations — Russian nesting dolls — set up to hide the true identity of the actual contributors, who are millionaire and billionaire plutocrats. It is not a serious attempt to regulate the dark money organizations corrupting our elections. It is pure posturing by her for her campaign to become Arizona's next Secretary of State. We can do better than Michele Reagan, the co-author of the GOP Voter Suppression Act, HB 2305.

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One response to “Sen. Michele Reagan’s dark money disclosure bill will accomplish little

  1. Note that Reagan’s bill requires disclosure of the three largest IDENTIFIABLE contributors. That’s the word that will allow the Kochtopus, Sean Noble and Nathan Sproul to weasel out of compliance with any attempt at forcing disclosure or compliance. Well, “can’t identify these large donors,” so we won’t disclose.

    That’s why this bill appears to be aimed primarily at Labor. Because Labor would play by the rules when the Kochs would not.