Americans for Job Security Anti-Obama ad
After Citizens United, attention has been paid to the sheer amount of money the right wing poured into elections and how that money has influenced public opinion, debate, and outcomes. But for the most part, attention has been placed on the so-called SuperPACs and their participation. While American Crossroads and others were certainly big players on the national landscape, little attention has been paid to how they operate on a state by state basis, and how they are used to launder money across state lines in order to subvert even the mildest disclosure requirements. In this post and ones to follow, I'll be putting the spotlight on these organizations and how they operate together to subvert democracy.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown put a measure on the November 2012 ballot to raise income and sales taxes in order to continue funding California schools and universities (Prop 30). Unlike most tax measures, Californians were in support of raising taxes in order to save our struggling school system. Another ballot measure would have stripped unions in California of their ability to participate in political speech while giving large corporations unlimited ability to spend on elections (Prop 32). Public opinion was mixed on that proposition.
In October, 2012, $11 million came into the state to oppose Prop 30 and support Prop 32. The organization which received and spent the money was called Americans for Responsible Leadership, a group organized in Arizona in 2011. California authorities filed a lawsuit to force Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL) to reveal their donors. Ultimately, they won the right to discover who gave ARL the funds, but they didn't discover the people behind the money.
When ARL was forced to disclose, they revealed that the money had come from an organization in Phoenix called the Center to Protect Patients Rights. When the Center to Protect Patients Rights was asked for the source of the funds, they pointed to Americans for Job Security (AJS). (application/pdf - 111.5 KB)
In summary, the money trail looked like this:
Mystery donors give $11 million --> Americans for Job Security --> Center for Patients Rights --> Americans for Responsible Leadership --> Ad buys in California opposing Prop 30, supporting Prop 32
Americans for Job Security: Conduit for dark money
Americans for Job Security has been on the landscape since 1997. According to their IRS filings, they are a trade association, exempt from taxes under 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, established by business owners to convey a "pro-paycheck message." Established by Bush political director David Carney, its chief officer through 2008 was Michael Dubke. Michael Dubke is a founding partner in two critical Republican operations: Crossroads Media and the BlackRock Group. Crossroads Media is the primary media buyer for the Karl Rove organizations, Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads. The BlackRock group is the architect of the SwiftBoat Network structure, where supposedly a third party coordinates messaging between unrelated nonprofit groups. AJS is currently run by a 27-year old student at Johns Hopkins University by the name of Stephen DeMaura, whose primary claim to fame prior to this was creating an anti-Hillary Clinton Facebook page in 2008 and serving as director of the New Hampshire Republican Party.