Just in case anyone doubts the need for a lot more transparency in political fund-raising, a remarkable settlement just obtained by California’s campaign finance watchdog and accompanying demands for disgorgement of previously undisclosed donations should erase all doubt.
The extraordinary thing about the settlement and the commission orders wasn’t the $1 million in fines assessed on two political committees, even though that’s an all-time record. Eclipsing the big fines were the volume of donor cash and the sheer hypocrisy revealed when one political committee inadvertently revealed its major contributors.
This case was all about two 2012 ballot propositions and the money spent for and against them by two Arizona political nonprofits tightly linked to the Kansas-based billionaire industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch, well known for funding ultra-conservative causes and the Tea Party.
There was no hypocrisy when their committees, the innocuously-named Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership, funneled more than $28 million of other people’s cash into campaigns. The cash was used against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative temporarily raising some state taxes, and for Proposition 32, a failed attempt to limit unions’ political power. Still, the two committees now must pay a combined $1 million for not disclosing donors before last year’s votes...