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Arizona Group Reveals Source For $11 Million Political Contribution In California

California Gov. Jerry Brown appears at a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.
Reed Saxon
California Gov. Jerry Brown appears at a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.

This morning a shadowy Arizona group decided to disclose where $11 million in political contributions came from. The money was used to fight for an anti-union ballot measure and against a proposition from Gov. Jerry Brown to raise sales and income taxes.

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) says the $11 million is the largest contribution "ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history." FPPC says it may be the largest anonymous donation in state history.

The accusation of "money laundering" comes because the group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, funneled money from non-profit to non-profit. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"The money was passed from Americans for Job Security to the Center to Protect Patient Rights to Americans for Responsible Leadership, according to state authorities. From there, the money was sent to a California campaign committee fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan, Proposition 30, and pushing a separate ballot measure to curb unions' political influence, Proposition 32.

"As of Sunday night, the Arizona nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership appeared ready to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid disclosing any records to state authorities by election day on Tuesday."

The Sacramento Bee reports that the Center to Protect Patient Rights has been connected to Koch Industries, owned by David and Charles Koch, who are well-known conservative benefactors.

The Koch brothers, however, denied any involvement with the California group.

As Bloomberg explains, the case pits federal law against state law:

"On Sunday, the California Supreme Court ordered the group to turn over their records to state regulators by 4 p.m. Sunday. The Arizona group said it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but changed its mind late Sunday.

"Under federal election law, nonprofits do not have to reveal the source of their funding; but California requires all groups that donate money with a specific political purpose in mind to disclose their donors."

Clarification at 5:25 p.m. ET: Reader Lucy Cole emailed us to correctly point out that the way we worded the organization's intentions was reversed. The money was meant to boost the anti-union proposition and to work against Brown's tax proposals. We've cleared that up in the post above.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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