CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers



Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California for their secretive little doings , another reason I love living here. Finally, a little justice.

Sort of. Emphasis on "a little."

Citizens United is still alive and well, unfortunately, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections, but at least officials here are zeroing in on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

The Los Angeles Times has the story:

California officials are imposing a record $16 million in penalties on secretive political groups that funneled money into initiative campaigns in 2012 [...]

Two campaign committees in California are being ordered to pay a total of $15 million to the state, a sum equivalent to the donations they received, which regulators said were improperly reported. Two Arizona nonprofits, one linked to billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch, will pay a combined $1-million fine as part of a settlement.

A million bucks to the Kochs is a drop in their bottomless money bucket, but at this point, some acknowledgement of and punishment for their activities is better than nothing.

The case highlighted how some big-ticket donors have sought to influence political campaigns by relying on off-the-books methods. Anonymous donations have exploded in popularity since 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that many nonprofits can spend unlimited money on elections. [...]

Only a haphazardly redacted list of names, uncovered by state officials through their investigation, provides clues to some of the original donors' identities.

Among those names: San Francisco investor Charles Schwab; Gap clothing retailer owners the Fisher family; Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad; and of course, groups associated with the Koch brothers.

Some of those wealthy types donated to Americans for Job Security, a Virginia trade association. Their money was channeled to California, but that little detail wasn't disclosed, which is against our state law.

Donations by the Kochs that were routed through Arizona and were sent to their buddy Sean Noble, a political operative, and were solicited by Tony Russo, a California-based GOP political consultant.

Governor Jerry Brown has promised to toughen California's campaign finance laws. The following quote from Brown was in my newspaper, but for some reason they deleted it from the online article:

"Secrecy and money don't mix well in a democracy."

Apparently the Times didn't think that was an important enough sentiment to share.

citizens united cartoon