CAP Action Fund: Not Transparent

Despite claims to the contrary, group hasn't revealed donors

A board member of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF)—the political advocacy arm of the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP)—told MSNBC Saturday that his group discloses its funding sources, despite its long history of secrecy.

Speaking with MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry and United Republic reporter Lee Fang on Saturday, CAPAF board member Peter Edelman said "everything I do discloses where the money comes from. Completely."

The group was responding to accusations of hypocrisy for attacking the Koch brothers, the conservative duo that has funneled millions of dollars into causes they support, for secrecy.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: I was really excited about the idea of a Koch brothers representative being here because I feel like everybody ought to have their say—we gave them the opportunity with this statement. But they also very pointedly went around this table—we told them who else we’d be speaking with—and at each point they suggested that everyone else at the table was also guilty of the things we are suggesting they are her, which is secrecy. They said that, Lee, your former employer, the Center for American Progress, as well as United Republic, don’t disclose their donors. Alicia Menedez, your former employer, the New Democrat Network, keeps their donors' contributions not public and then they said of us as professors, that we go to academic conferences that do not allow the media. I can't even imagine what the media would want to know about what goes on--I think we'd be really excited to have some press at our conferences, even if we would have very low ratings. So what say you to these statements by the Koch brother foundation?

PETER EDELMAN: I couldn't wait to hear what the accusation was for me and my thing. i mean, I've worked for a university, I’m chair of a foundation--everything that I do, I am on the board of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, everything I do discloses where the money comes from completely.

LEE FANG: And you know, I work for United Republic. We disclose our donors, so I'm not sure where Koch is getting their facts. But it’s hard to trust the Koch PR shop. In 2009, they put out aggressive statements to the media, we have nothing to do with the tea party. We demand a correction from anyone who associates us with the Tea Party. Now, they say we're proud to support the Tea Party and we've also financed them.

CAP and its sister organization, CAPAF, do not reveal their funding sources. News reports have identified major donors over the years, such as billionaire investor George Soros, Progressive Insurance chairman Peter B. Lewis, and Hollywood producer Steve Bing. The group has also received funds from energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens to promote natural gas legislation and smear coal.

CAP and CAPAF have drawn criticism in the past for their lack of transparency.

When reached for statement, a spokeswoman for the Center for American Progress Action Fund said she didn’t "have any comment at this time" but would forward along questions to her superiors. So far, the organization has yet to respond.

Edelman could not be reached for comment.

United Republic, a non-profit group that advocates for campaign finance reform, recently disclosed its donors months after originally promising to.