Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kochs' Weaponized Philanthropy Machine - MapLight.org - 2018


I fear most don’t have any conception of what’s been happening so far as the Koch machine’s hostile takeover bid on our government, with its many tentacled infiltration of local politics as exemplified by the malicious and deceptive Lachelt Recall Petition - and if you think about it, there's something downright totalitarian leaning about the multilayered smarmy operation.
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Koch-Linked Dark Money Organization Seals 2016 Tax Return Section From Public Scrutiny

Margaret Sessa-Hawkins and Andrew Perez | January 17, 2018 | Maplight.org


A conservative dark money organization linked to billionaire libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch is refusing to disclose information about the size of its donations, defying IRS regulations that govern the tax-exempt entities.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the flagship political organization of the Koch brothers, spent at least $13 million to help elect Republicans during the 2016 election. It raised almost $64 million in contributions, according to its tax return.

The organization, however, last week formally rejected MapLight’s request to release a redacted section of its annual tax return that lists any donations of more than $5,000. MapLight, a Berkeley, Calif.-based money in politics watchdog, has filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service.
“AFP is secretly influencing our government and elections through more than $60 million in dark money and refusing to comply with even the minimal transparency law still applicable,” said Daniel G. Newman, president and co-founder of MapLight. “Americans have a right to information about the efforts to influence our political process by unelected, anonymous billionaires.”

The section requested by MapLight, known as a Schedule B, is an important document because it indicates how much money comes from large contributions. In November, MapLight used a Schedule B to report that the dark money organization that financed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation received almost 90 percent of its 2016 funding from a single $28.5 million donation. …

In their 2012 tax form -- the last publicly available one that included a redacted list of contributors -- AFP reported $115 million in revenue. More than $89 million came from large grants of more than $1 million, including individual grants of $21 million, $26 million, and $11.5 million. …
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Dark Money, Nonprofit Experts: Koch Organization Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Hide Contribution Amounts

Margaret Sessa-Hawkins and Andrew Perez | January 23, 2018 | Maplight.org


A conservative dark money organization tied to the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers shouldn't be allowed to hide the size of its donations from public view, campaign finance and nonprofit experts said last week.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the flagship political organization of Charles and David Koch, is refusing to allow the public to view a section of its tax return showing the amounts of donations made by individuals. The section of the tax return requested by MapLight, known as a Schedule B, is an important document for journalists because it lists total contributions from individuals who gave more than $5,000.

An AFP official said public disclosure of the document could be used to identify its donors. MapLight, a Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit watchdog organization, filed a complaint last week with the IRS seeking the release of the information.

The IRS itself provides explicit guidelines for public disclosure of nonprofit tax returns in the instructions accompanying the Schedule B. According to the instructions,  “the names and addresses of contributors aren’t required to be made available for public inspection. All other information, including the amount of contributions … is required to be made available for public inspection unless it clearly identifies the contributor.” …
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THE RISE OF DARK MONEY IN U.S. ELECTIONS

Dark money comes from groups that are not required to disclose their donors. It pays for ads and other efforts to influence elections, but voters often don’t know who is behind those efforts.


DIG INTO THE DATA Tools for investigating dark money

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Secret donors come back to boost former-Koch group

By Robert Maguire on January 25, 2018  |  OpenSecrets.org


A secretive political group that is little more than a mailbox full of money in a Des Moines UPS Store raised more than $29.4 million in 2016, most of which was funneled into ads aimed at electing Republicans.

Tax documents obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics show that American Future Fund (AFF), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that doesn’t have to disclose its donors, had a banner year in 2016.

The $29.4 million haul marks the group’s highest revenues since it was cut from the constellation of political organizations linked to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch amidst a campaign money laundering scandal in 2012. In 2015, the dark money group raised just a little over $350,000. …

As the Center for Responsive Politics reported at the time, the ads were timed to run right as a lawsuit brought by the Doral Financial Group was to go to court — a suit the bank ultimately won, receiving a  $230 million tax refund from the Puerto Rican government.

In early January 2018, AFF spent $250,000 on digital and cable ads calling on President Trump and Congress “to act on a bipartsian solution to improving our immigration system.” …

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Jane Mayer / The Koch Brothers and the Weaponizing of Philanthropy
EthicsinSociety  |  Published on Apr 6, 2016  |  1:15:11 
Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?  
The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as author Jane Mayer shows in her powerful, meticulously reported new book, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.   
Mayer was in conversation with Rob Reich and Lucy Bernholz to discuss the future of American democracy. 
This event was co-sponsored with Stanford PACS, and was part of The Ethics of Democracy series. 
The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement. Visit the Center's website for more information: http://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu
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