Two dark money groups linked to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have paid a record $1 million in fines to California to settle allegations that the combined $15 million they spent on two ballot proposals in the state was not properly disclosed."Social welfare non-profits" my ass. That's a carefully engineered loophole you can drive an aircraft carrier through. More like a container ship fulla Benjamins.
The civil settlement, announced Thursday afternoon in Sacramento, caps a year of investigation into the activities of the two Arizona groups, Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights.
“What is the takeaway from this trail of dark money?” asked Ann Ravel, the outgoing head of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which investigated the groups along with the state attorney general’s office. “This is a nationwide issue. These groups exploit loopholes in the law to undermine the clear purpose of the law, to give essential information to the public.”
Anonymous money funneled through social welfare nonprofits and trade associations has become a major factor in federal elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in early 2010 opened up the door to unlimited corporate and union spending on outside ads, as documented by ProPublica. In the past two election cycles, social welfare nonprofits have spent more than $350 million, mostly from unknown donors, on election ads telling people to vote for or against federal candidates.
And while the groups have been linked to the Koch brothers, it’s not clear how exactly they’re connected. The Center to Protect Patient Rights, which operates out of a post office box in Arizona and doesn’t even have a website, has been described practically like an ATM machine for various groups affiliated with the Koch brothers. The press release issued by California authorities says the Center and Americans for Responsible Leadership “operated as part of the ‘Koch Brothers Network’ of dark money political nonprofit corporations.”They paid the fine, chump change to them, and we still don't know who they are.
The Kochs have long been known for spending millions to influence elections behind the scenes, through a complex network of groups that critics have nicknamed “the Kochtopus.” The Kochs themselves have remained determinedly in the background.
The fine is the largest in California history in a campaign-finance case.
The manner in which the groups paid it speaks volumes about how dark their money really is.
They paid by cashier’s check, sent by a Sacramento lawyer’s office Thursday morning, betraying no clue to the money’s origin.
This shit has to stop, but as long as we have a right-wing SCOTUS it will not.