Federal Politics

Published — July 13, 2016 Updated — July 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm ET

Koch-backed ‘dark money’ groups fined for failing to disclose donors

Three conservative organizations agree to pay FEC combined $233,000

Introduction

In an extraordinary move, the Federal Election Commission — frequently gridlocked and often criticized as toothless — has fined three so-called “dark money” groups funded by the donor network connected to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch a total of $233,000 for failing to reveal the source of their funds.

The fines — stemming from a 2014 complaint filed by a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. — involved funding of congressional elections in 2010.

The FEC requires organizations that spend money on advertising and other activities designed to help or hurt a federal political candidate for to report who has funded the activity. But if the group paying for the ads is a “dark money” nonprofit, the names of the donors go unreported.

Nonprofits are only required to note who their donors are if the donors indicate that the funds are targeted for a specific race — something that rarely happens.

The groups involved in the FEC complaint claimed that the funds they collected from the Koch network were not meant for specific ads or races and were not required to be reported.

But in this case, the connections between the funder, the recipients of the funds and the ultimate purpose of the funds were apparently too obvious for the FEC to ignore.

“These rules provide some of the only windows into the funding of dark money groups, but the FEC almost never penalizes groups that break them,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a press release announcing the settlement. “It is hard to overstate how significant this is.”

The Koch-controlled entity that made the donations to the “dark money” groups was called the Center to Protect Patient Rights, now known as American Encore. The nonprofit gave millions to three other nonprofits: the 60 Plus Association (which agreed to pay $50,000 in a “conciliation agreement” with the FEC), the American Future Fund (which agreed to pay $140,000) and Americans for Job Security (which agreed to pay $43,000).

Those groups in turn paid for ads that helped dozens of Republican political candidates — or attacked Democratic candidates — during the 2010 midterm election.

The case hinged on Sean Noble, a conservative political consultant with extensive ties to the Koch network.

Noble was executive director in 2009 and 2010 of the Center to Protect Patient Rights. He was also owner of Noble Associates, which was a subcontractor to media consulting firms that produced and placed advertising during the elections for the three “dark money” groups, according to the conciliation agreement.

Noble, according to the agreements, assisted the three groups with targeting specific members of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. The “dark money” groups, in turn, focused on those races, at least in part, in their advertising.

Noble, who has since fallen out of the Koch network’s good graces, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The agreement was announced by CREW based on documents it received from the FEC.

The FEC declined to comment and did not release information about how the agency’s six commissioners voted. The documents in the case, according to an FEC letter sent to CREW and dated July 8, will be released within 30 days.

This story was co-published with Newsweek.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.