California Investigation Might Break The Koch Machine

California has not given up the hunt for the source of $11 million dollars poured into the state to defeat two ballot initiatives.

At the end of last year, I reported on the mysterious $11 million dollars that flowed into California to defeat ballot propositions 30 and 32. The flow of money was traced as it passed through several non-profit organizations, ultimately going all the way back to a known dark money conduit known as Americans for Job Security. Here's a refresher:

AJS Spending in 2010-2012 cycle

  • The $11 million drop into California notwithstanding, AJS also dropped $15 million into the national elections. All of their media buys went through Crossroads Media, and nearly all of the funds were spent in opposition to Barack Obama.
  • In Arizona, Americans for Responsible Leadership dropped $1.1 million to oppose an open primary system in Arizona and an increase in their sales taxes. Because of differences in state campaign finance laws, it appears that ARL will not be compelled to disclose their donors. But based upon similarities, it's not a far leap to assume the money flow was similar to the one in California.
  • In late 2011, AJS ran anti-union ads in New Hampshire tying to the Republican primary debate held there.
  • AJS dropped $689,000 in Wisconsin to oppose Eric Hovde, the less conservative candidate running for the open Senate seat Tammy Baldwin eventually won.

Because the trail seemed to go cold with the Americans for Job Security reveal, there didn't seem to be much point in pursuing it. But according to Raw Story, California officials haven't given up on digging through to the actual source.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has issued roughly a dozen new subpoenas in the investigation of $11 million that was laundered through a network of dark money groups and funneled into the state during the last election, according to unnamed sources who spoke to The Huffington Post.

It’s not yet clear where the original $11 million came from, but investigators have so far traced it back to a group called Americans for Job Security (AJS), run by Stephen DeMaura, a blogger for Red State and the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party. AJS told the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) it would not engage in political spending, but its application to accept tax deductible contributions has yet to be accepted.

Investigators said AJS gave $11 million to the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR), which was run in 2010 by Sean Noble, a former Republican congressional staffer whom Politico called a “top” operative for the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. The CPPR was instrumental during that year’s midterm elections in dolling out more than $44 million to groups that attacked Democrats and health care reform, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. Noble eventually moved on to work for another Koch-linked group, Americans for Limited Government.

I have no idea who they have subpoenaed, but I expect they will be able to dig it back to the usual GOP culprits. As soon as I saw that Sean Noble was in the mix, it was pretty obvious. Noble bills himself as the co-founder of DC London, a Republican campaign management firm. Past clients include Senator Jeff Flake. Noble's real claim to fame, however, is that he was Senator John Shadegg's chief of staff, and more importantly, worked side by side with Phil Kerpen at Americans for Prosperity and appears to be associated with Kerpen's new venture, American Commitment, a new addition to the Koch stable of right-wing "activist" organizations.

This is one to watch. I would love for California to actually hold the Koch machine responsible for once instead of just shaking the change out of the slot.

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