Update – ‘dark money’ Americans for Responsible Leadership discloses donors: more non-profits


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The United State Supreme Court did not grant any new orders this morning, so the lawyers for the "dark money" Americans for Responsible Leadership were forced to comply with the California Supreme Court's order. As you might expect, the disclosure only reveals additional layers of anonymity behind more non-profit organizations. Controversial Arizona nonprofit releases name of contributors — more nonprofits – latimes.com:

In a stunning reversal, an obscure Arizona nonprofit at the center of a legal battle over secret political contributions released on Monday morning the identity of its contributors, which it had been fighting tooth and nail to keep secret.

But the disclosure did little to shed light on who was behind the $11-million donation to a California campaign fund. The Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, identified its contributors only as other nonprofits.

The money was passed from Americans for Job Security to the Center to Protect Patient Rights to Americans for Responsible Leadership, according to state authorities. From there, the money was sent to a California campaign committee fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan, Proposition 30, and pushing a separate ballot measure to curb unions' political influence, Proposition 32.

* * *

Americans for Responsible Leadership reached an agreement with the commission to reveal its contributors on Monday morning, allowing state authorities to skip the audit process. However, the disclosure of more nonprofits did little to satisfy activists who were seeking contributors' true identities.

Derek Cressman of Common Cause, which originally filed the complaint against the Arizona nonprofit, called the group "irresponsible, cowardly money launderers."

Still, Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said in a statement that the disclosure was "a significant and lasting victory for transparency in the political process.”

* * *

In a statement on Monday morning, the Arizona nonprofit's legal team did not explain why they stopped fighting the court order, saying only that a settlement was reached after "late-night discussions."

I previously posted about a Yellow Sheet Report that identified Sean Noble of Center to Protect Patient Rights, a front group that launders campaign funds for the Koch brothers, in Americans for Responsible Leadership – a Koch brothers 'dark money' front group (excerpt):

The Yellow Sheet Report (subscription required) added more intrigue on Friday in a post entitled "Prime Suspect":

When Americans for Responsible Leadership dramatically increased the amount of money it has poured into political campaigns several weeks ago, local political observers began trying like mad to piece together where the money is coming from. When Bloomberg last week highlighted a group run by GOP consultant Sean Noble that raised more than $62 million in untraceable money in 2010 (LINK), many railbirds put his name at the top of the list.

Noble’s group, Center to Protect Patient Rights, gave more than half of its money to politically active groups like the American Future Fund and Americans for Tax Reform. Throw in the fact that Adams, a Noble client, recently joined the group as its president – immediately before it began throwing around huge sums of money – and that was enough for Associated General Contractors head David Martin to conclude that the group was likely funneling money to ARL, too. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” he said.

One GOP consultant said Noble’s company, DC-London, is also heavily involved in the efforts to defeat Props 121 and 204. “I think he’s involved in [ARL]. I think it’s a little too coincidental that Noble’s people are running the anti-121 and 204 campaigns,” the source said. Adams last week told our reporter that he wouldn’t say whether Noble’s group was or wasn’t a contributor to ARL. “I wish I could help you put out a fire,” he said, adding only that ARL has received “significant contributions from several different groups” both within and outside Arizona.

I have previously posted about Sean Noble and his Center to Protect Patients Rights. The state of Maricopa appears to be the hub of the wingnut operations of the Koch brothers.

Source Watch identifies Americans for Job Security as a "pro-business advocacy organization" based in Arlington, VA. AJS spun off in the late 1990s from a group called The Coalition: Americans Working for Real Change, a group that had been formed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Incorporated in October 1997. Americans for Job Security – SourceWatch:

[I]n a FEC Complaint, Public Citizen wrote that AJS is a "sham front group that would be better called Corporations Influencing Elections … masquerading as a non-profit to conceal its funders and the scope of its electioneering activities," the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in April 2007. Incorporated October 1997 in Virginia, AJS was described by the Center as "pro-Republican", "pro-business", and "established to directly counter labor's influence".

* * *

It is alleged that AJS was founded by Marc F. Racicot "with a $1 million donation" from the American Insurance Association. Racicot headed George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and is a former Republican National Committee chairman.

* * *

AJS is classified as a Section 501(c)(6) trade association, meaning that the organization is designed to promote the “common business interests” of its members. Additionally, "it is not prohibited from intervening in political campaigns so long as political campaign intervention is not its primary activity." However, the Washington Post reported in August, 2010, that AJS spends "the vast majority of its budget on television and radio ads before elections.

According to Public Citizen, if the advertising constitutes campaign intervention (electioneering), the activity would be considered AJS's primary activity, resulting in loss of tax-exempt status and imposition of taxes under Section 527(f)."

That would be the place to start: attack its tax exempt status with the IRS and hit these evil bastards with a huge tax penalty and fines.

UPDATE: The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Arizona donation to California called ‘money laundering’:

California’s political watchdog agency says
an $11 million campaign donation from an Arizona nonprofit represents
the largest case of campaign money laundering in state history.

* * *

The Arizona group received money from two other groups without disclosing that, an apparent violation of California law.

Sean Noble, C'mon down! You're in the hot seat now.

UPDATE: The Arizona Republic reports Arizona-based group opposing initiatives releases donor names:

The Arizona-based group disclosed its donor list Monday morning after a
California court required it to do so. The list consisted of a single
donor, Americans for Job Security, which got its money through a second
intermediary, The Center to Protect Patients Rights, according to a
letter the group sent to the California Fair Political Practices

* * *

[T]he people who are promoting two Arizona ballot measures also
targeted by the group said they believe the same donors also poured $1.5
million to date into opposition efforts to defeat their measures. And
they say the money ties back to the Koch brothers, citing Noble’s ties
with the deep-pocketed donors

David and Charles Koch run the Wichita-based Koch Industries, a
conglomerate that deals in petroleum, gas liquids and other trades. They
have made billions from their family enterprise and contribute heavily
to conservative causes.

Federal tax records show Noble was the executive director of the
Center to Protect Patient Rights. During the 2010 campaign cycle, the
center sent money to another non-profit corporation, Americans for Job
Security, to help elect Republicans.

According to non-profit listings, the Center to Protect Patient
Rights Inc., is a registered charity in Phoenix. It raised $61.8 million
in 2010, according to public filings.

Americans for Job Security is a registered independent committee in
Alexandria, Virginia. It spent $9 million in this election cycle
according to online Federal Election Committee records. Most of the
money went to a Virginia media company, Crossroads Media LLC, in an
effort to oppose President Obama’s re-election.

* * *

[Ann-Eve Pedersen] said she links the anti-204 efforts to the Koch brothers through
their ties to Noble, as well as the billionaire brothers’ support for
the Goldwater Institute. In 2010, the Center to Protect Patient Rights
gave $1.9 million to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’
non-profit group, which contributes to political campaigns.

In addition, Noble’s consulting firm, DC London, is running the No New Taxes campaign against Prop. 204.

* * *

The long-awaited disclosure provided no information about the identities
of the individual donors to those two additional non-profit groups.

Like i said, The state of Maricopa appears to be the hub of the wingnut operations of the Koch brothers.