California convenes grand jury to look into dark money

Written by Philip Ung on July 18, 2013

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Common Cause, in its fight against dark money, has learned new information about the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) refers to as the "largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history."

A recent round of subpoenas by California Attorney General Kamala Harris has brought the $11 million out-of-state, dark money contributions in 2012 back into the spotlight. This huge influx of money from the group, the Small Business Action Committee, was intended to strike down Governor Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, a measure intended to temporarily raise taxes with an emphasis on wealthier individuals, and to support Prop 32, which would have barred unions from certain funds on political spending.

Since Common Cause filed its complaint in October 2012, little information has been made public . This new flux of subpoenas, many of which were given to wealthy conservatives associated with the Koch brothers, confirms that a grand jury investigation is underway. The result of this investigation could lead to an over $10 million penalty and criminal charges, which seem to be just a small, but emblematic, drop in Koch Industries $100 billion dollar annual bucket.

Although grand jury proceedings are secret, initial subpoenas and further investigation revealed that the money came from a series of dark money rabbit holes that ultimately trace back to the Koch brothers. The Small Business Action Committee PAC got the $11 million from the Arizona group Americans for Responsible Leadership, who in turn received the information from an equally euphemistically named Virginia business entity, Americans for Job Security. Accompanied by the fact that Koch crony Sean Noble, and his organization the Center to Protect Patient Rights, funneled over $55 million to groups to influence 2012 elections, the investigation may reveal the further depths of secrecy and PAC barriers wealthy donors have used to hide moneyin elections.

Common Cause is committed to revealing the true sources of dark money and unmasking the subversive tactics employed by special interests to create self-serving laws contrary to public interest. We will be following the investigation and updating voters as more information becomes available.

Office: California Common Cause, Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics, Money In Politics

Tags: Disclosure, Disclosure

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