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The Almighty Buck Politics

A Look at the Koch Brothers Dark-Money Network 406

An anonymous reader writes "The California attorney general and the state's top election watchdog named the 'Koch brothers network' of donors and dark-money nonprofits as the true source of $15 million in secret donations made last year to influence two bitterly fought ballot propositions in California. State officials unmasked the Kochs' network as part of a settlement deal that ends a nearly year-long investigation into the source of the secret donations that flowed in California last fall."
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A Look at the Koch Brothers Dark-Money Network

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  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:05PM (#45254565)
    from TFA: there was a philanthropist involved in this. We should string up all of the philanthropists!
    • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:14PM (#45254607)

      You mean this guy?

      On the morning of June 19, 2006, Haas was arrested by IRS agents for investigation of filing false tax returns, witness intimidation, and conspiracy.[12] Four others were indicted together with Haas.

      Haas initially pled not guilty, but after all four of the co-indicted plead guilty and just before his case was to go to trial, a plea agreement was reached with Haas pleading guilty on one count.

      Haas made full restitution to the IRS and has served a fraction of a 24-month sentence in federal prison. He was released to a halfway house in November 2008. Since February 2009, he has been living at his home and working at Haas Automation.

      • Is this a good place to say, "Ha ha!... you spent $15 to illegally influence an election and lost! And now you have to pay $16M in fines!"

        Honestly, it's this secret crap that scares me the most, whether it's the Koch brothers or the NSA. If they're going to screw us over, they'd better damn well do it in the light of day.

  • Chill out! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OhANameWhatName ( 2688401 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:19PM (#45254651)

    the true source of $15 million in secret donations made last year to influence two bitterly fought ballot propositions in California

    The Koch's have been shafting the political process for years, nobody cared before. What is this? Some sort of fo-public Koch exposure? We all know that the Koch's will remain hidden until the heat dies off then they'll come and fuck something else up.

    • by Zeio ( 325157 )

      Yes, lets crib about the Koch brothers. Let's do PSAs with Richard Nixon in it as Oliver Stone laments lost liberties. Let's not talk about the current political situation that has:
      Drone killing. No 4th amendment, warrant-less searches. Executive kill orders. Dragnets. NSA spying. Google being co-opted to spy. All emails being read. All calls being logged. Foreign leaders being spied on. The money being debased. Arms being channeled to criminal cartels for sting purposes. Suspicious withholding of force in

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:24PM (#45254683)
    Well, I guess we know who the conservatives are on Slashdot, now. It amazing to see how much they complain when criticism is aimed at rich people who are swaying elections in directions that they appreciate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You know, some part of me wonders. Why do liberals keep saying "rich people" and "conservatives" as they're interchangeable. Seriously. Lets pull out some of the top billionaires in this country, look not what they're registered as (as you'll find they're pretty much all registered independent), but look at their political leanings. Buffett made campaign contributions to the obama campaign. Bill Gates, called out for his college fund discriminating against whites along with also supporting obama, boy,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chasisaac ( 893152 )
      I am just glad that people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs (when alive), Warren Buffet, and George Soros all who use their money for the DNC have never influenced politics or elections in any way.
  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:31PM (#45254729)

    The "Koch link" seems to be that one of the guys running one of the foundations was described by Politico as a "Koch operative". The other Koch link was that there was an E-mail asking one of the Koch brothers for contributions to help get a proposition passed that would have limited the ability of unions to raise private money for political purposes. Consistent with his libertarian views, he says he does not support such restrictions and did not support the proposition directly or indirectly.

    Can someone explain to me how this turns into a "Koch brother network"? I mean, perhaps the Koch brothers are more deeply involved in this, but nothing in the MJ article or the settlement seems to provide any evidence for any significant involvement by them.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:53PM (#45254887) Journal

      Can someone explain to me

      I have the same complaint when someone uses some high-tech acronym I don't recognize.

      If this was the first article you had ever read that mentions the Koch Brothers, I could see where you might need such an explanation. By now, half a decade into their influencing the political system to enhance their fossil fuel and other natural resource holdings, most of the readers, especially the American readers, know who these guys are, who their father was (a big John Bircher and avowed racist and anti-semite) and what they're up to via mechanisms like FreedomWorks and ALEC and the Tea Party. They use their own billions as seed money to create a network of action committees that seek to influence politics from the level of local school boards thousands of miles away from where they live right on up to the President and the President's supervisor, the chairman of the Fed.

      A famous story about one of the Koch Brothers recounts how someone called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pretending to be David Koch and the governor slobbered all over the phone telling the pseudo-Koch Brother how he was gonna make sure - you bet - to get rid of all those unions who expect to actually get, you know, paid for working in Koch Industries facilities, and assured pseudo-Koch that there would be sufficient poor people taken off the state Badgercare rolls so that Koch's companies would get substantial tax subsidies in Wisconsin. It was a remarkable candid snapshot of just how much the name "Koch" reverberates through the precincts of the so-called "constitutional conservatives" and just how much it opens the doors to the treasury to these so-called "patriots".

      • You would deserve +1 informative, but I wonder how the whole story made it to Slashdot. While I agree corrupted politicians should be shamed ans Interne is a valuable tool for that, this story looks very local news, isn't it?
        • While I agree corrupted politicians should be shamed ans Interne is a valuable tool for that, this story looks very local news, isn't it?

          It would be local news, except for the fact that the Koch brothers' network, funding the American Legislative Exchange Council and FreedomWorks, is influencing candidates and elections in all 50 states.

          So if by "local" you mean "in the United States" then you are correct. If you mean that it's something that's only happening in one little backwater, then no, it's not a lo

      • The article says "Koch-linked" but does not clarify by whom or how. One evidence is a mail to Koch, not from. Call it shitty journalism, but I don't think people remember which organisations are run by which interests.

      • If this was the first article you had ever read that mentions the Koch Brothers, I could see where you might need such an explanation.

        The article makes specific allegations. Saying "we already know these guys are guilty" doesn't support those allegations.

    • by codeusirae ( 3036835 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:55PM (#45254899)
      01: "two Arizona-based nonprofits, the Koch-linked Center to Protect Patients Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership, admitted violating state election law"

      02: "One potential donor courted by an ally of Russo's was Charles Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries"

      03: "Hi Charles .. It would be great if you could support the final effort with several million .. I must tell you that Sean Noble from your group has been immensely helpfull in our efforts .. I look forward to seeing you on the golf-course" ..

      04: "AJS and its lawyers took precautions, choosing to funnel the money through the Center to Protect Patients Rights, which was run by Sean Noble, who was then the primary outside consultant and strategist to the Koch brothers' national donor network"

      05: "Here, the money trail forks into two trails. In one direction, CPPR gave $7 million to a nonprofit called the American Future Fund, which in turn passed $4.08 million of that to a subsidiary in California. That subsidiary, the California Future Fund for Free Markets, finally spent the money on influencing Props. 30 and 32.

      06: `In the second direction, CPPR directed $13 million to its Arizona neighbor, Americans for Responsible Leadership. ARL then passed $11 million of that money to the Small Business Action Committee in Sacramento, which spent the money influencing Props. 30 and 32.'

      07: `Here's the bottom line: A California fundraiser raised a boatload of money. He shuffled it through a network of secretly funded nonprofit groups to hide the donors' identities. And when the money finally arrived in California in time to influence the 2012 elections, the fingerprints on the money had been thoroughly scrubbed off—and in the process, the operatives masterminding this scheme had broken the law. '
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:37PM (#45254773)

    Once again there are no criminal prosecutions of the rich and powerful who choose to deliberately violate the law. A one million dollar fine is nothing to these people, they will recover from that minor "inconvenience" in less than a month. When are the American people going to get fed up with these shenanigans enough to start throwing these people in prison? That's the only thing that will make others think twice about doing the same thing again next year.

    So California can only throw them in prison for a year. Make it general population and not one of those country club prisons for the rich and actually fine them the double-the-amount part. A thirty million dollar fine might take them more than a few weeks to recover from.

    • by Sir Homer ( 549339 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @11:23PM (#45255711)

      The article is confusing, but it seems like the fine is actually $16.03 million. What is infuriating is this is a settlement agreement so that the state will not release the names of the donors. It looks as if they are basically paying off the state so they don't have the deal with the public fallout.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @09:13PM (#45254989)

    We could probably balance the budget in no time!

  • Some background (Score:5, Informative)

    by Forever Wondering ( 2506940 ) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @11:37PM (#45255765)

    See Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer [newyorker.com] to get a truer sense of the depth and breadth of the machinations.

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