If you haven't seen the ad at the top, count yourself lucky. It's been running on MSNBC for two weeks after a huge ad buy by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a group which claims to be a bipartisan clique against any deal with Iran.
Now Eli Clifton has unearthed a 2013 donor list that gives some strong indicators about the money underneath the ads.
According to the “Schedule B” filing that tax-exempt nonprofits must submit to the IRS, the top donors to UANI are a pair of trusts associated with the billionaire Thomas Kaplan and a family foundation operated by Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Together, the funding associated with Kaplan and Adelson accounted for more than three-quarters of the group’s total revenue of $1.7 million for the 2013 tax year.
As I previously reported for The Nation, Adelson’s family foundation contributed half a million dollars to UANI that year.
Kaplan’s contributions to the anti-Iran group were larger overall—totaling $843,000, around half the UANI’s annual revenue for that tax year—but through two separate trusts managed by his company, named in the schedule B document as The Tigris Group. (Known Kaplan companies include The Tigris Financial Group, The Tigris Group of Companies, and The Electrum Group.) The first, Butterfield Trust, is described in a 2011 Sunshine Silver Mines prospectus as “trustee of a trust primarily for the benefit of members of the family of Dr. Thomas Kaplan.” Butterfield Trust contributed $281,000 to UANI in 2013. The other Kaplan trust, New Generations, gave UANI $562,000, according to the Schedule B.
I'm not going to speculate on how Clifton got access to that Schedule B. I'm betting there will be some kind of renewed outcry against the IRS about it. And yes, it's for 2013 donations.
But you can bet that if that's the kind of giving they got in 2013, they've gotten twice or thrice that in 2015, likely from the very same donors.
Now that we know who is paying for all that "free speech" we can assign it the weight it deserves, which is basically none whatsoever.