MORAIN: Pulling thread on laundered funds
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.
But ever so slowly, FPPC investigators are pulling on threads, trying to unravel the mystery and lies behind the $11 million in laundered campaign money that flooded into California three weeks before the November election.
Recall the circuitous route the money took: On Oct. 16, Fox disclosed that Americans for Responsible Leadership, an Arizona not-for-profit group that had never played in California politics, gave $11 million to Fox’s Small Business Action Committee to promote Proposition 32, and oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike measure, Proposition 30.
On Nov. 5, the day before the election and after the FPPC had sued to force more complete disclosure, Fox filed an amended report with the secretary of state’s office revising the story of how the money got into the Small Business committee treasury.
In the new disclosure, Fox reported that Americans for Job Security, based in Virginia, was the source of the money - although Americans for Job Security still has not filed the proper forms with California authorities identifying it as a source of the $11 million.
Evidently to cloak the source of the money, Americans for Job Security sent the $11 million to another not-for-profit shell, the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, of Arizona, which passed it to its Arizona neighbor, Americans for Responsible Leadership.
The question remains: where did Americans for Job Security get the $11 million? Suspects include billionaires who spent hundreds of millions to defeat President Barack Obama. Part of the answer lies closer to home.
Paul Meyer, the Sacramento-based director of the trade group, told me that Jeff Miller, a major fundraiser for Republican causes, solicited the money from him on behalf of Americans for Job Security.
Miller is a behind-the-scenes player who is influential, in large part because he is so skilled at raising money. He keeps a Sacramento office, but recently moved to Austin, Texas, where he has made waves by trying to lure California businesses to the Lone Star State.
In a Sept. 3 posting on its website, the Sierra Chapter’s director urged members to donate to the Yes on 32 campaign. And to be extra helpful, he suggested how they could hide their donations:
The $11 million was a tactic in conservatives’ failed strategy to win the November election. The end justified the means. Americans for Job Security spent $15 million beyond the laundered $11 million to unseat Obama. Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona conduit, spent $5 million to defeat him.
The FPPC investigation will go on for months.
Dan Morain is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
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