The California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC) is attempting to link the Koch brothers to violations of campaign finance disclosure laws without any evidence the Koch’s were involved.
Ann Ravel, the outgoing chair of the CFPPC, has accused libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch of funneling "dark money" into two ballot initiatives in 2012 despite the fact that the Kochs did not donate directly or indirectly to either measure.
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Two nonprofit groups, the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR) and Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL), reached a civil settlement with the California Commission on Thursday, agreeing to pay a $1 million fine.
The groups failed to disclose financial contributions used against Proposition 30, a tax hike on the wealthy, and in support of Proposition 32, which would have prohibited unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Koch Industries actually opposed the union measure, which was ultimately defeated by California voters.
The settlement arose out of contributions worth $15 million to two California committees that were "not properly reported." The funding was originally raised by Americans for Job Security, a nonprofit based in Virginia, then distributed to CPPR.
CPPR was cited for giving $11 million to ARL, which was transferred to the Small Business Action Committee in California, without properly disclosing they were the source. Another $4.08 million donation was given to the California Future Fund for Free Markets, using the American Future Fund as an intermediary.
As a result of the settlement, the California committees will have to forfeit the $15 million in contributions to the state.
Ravel, a Democrat nominated by President Barack Obama to join the Federal Election Commission (FEC), has accused the Kochs of funneling "dark money" into the initiatives, though they have no formal ties to any of the groups involved. She was confirmed for the FEC, an "independent regulatory agency," last month.
The commission called CPPR "the key nonprofit in the Koch Brothers' dark money network of nonprofit corporations" in a press release announcing the settlement and Ravel herself has said the money was transferred to the "Koch network."
"We did not support, either directly or indirectly, this ballot initiative, which would have restricted public and private sector employees’ rights to contribute to candidates," Koch said. "The pronoun ‘we’ refers to Koch Industries and its corporate entities; Charles Koch; David Koch; and their foundations."
"In addition, we did not give directly or indirectly to any non-profit group in support of this ballot initiative," they said.
Numerous news reports have tried to link the Kochs to the funding, citing Sean Noble, founder of CPPR, who had worked as a consultant to Koch Industries in the past. The group has no formal ties to the Koch brothers.
Ravel said during a press conference on Thursday that Americans for Job Security sent money to the "Koch network," which has "tentacles all over the country."
But when asked about the $11 million donation, she had no evidence that any of the funding was from the Kochs.
"I don’t believe we know what money was included in the $11 million, and I think that was part of the purpose of the exchange," Ravel said.
"Ms. Ravel’s comments about Koch are unfounded and without factual basis, as she acknowledged in her press conference," said Melissa Cohlmia, communications director for Koch Industries.