Political Watchdog Hits "Dark Money" Contributors with Record Fine
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the state agency that oversees elections and contributions, and the state Attorney General have announced a record $1 million fine is being levied against out-of-state organizations that made illegal political contributions during their fight to defeat CTA-backed Proposition 30 and to pass CTA-opposed Proposition 32 last November.
The state watchdog agency detailed a “dark money trail” followed by the Koch brothers, a pair of billionaire political right-wing radicals, to direct about $15 million to No on Prop. 30 – passed by voters – and Yes on Proposition 32 -- a measure that aimed to handcuff unions and gag the voices of working women and men, a measure voters defeated.
The FPPC on Thursday afternoon announced that “record civil settlement against the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR) and Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL), two nonprofits operated as part of the ‘Koch Brothers' Network’ of dark money political nonprofit corporations. The settlement requires CPPR and ARL to pay $1 million to the State General Fund for their failure to disclose two dark money independent expenditure contributions in the 2012 election to oppose Proposition 30 and support Proposition 32.”
The agency and the attorney general are also requiring the organizations that received the funding, including the Small Business Action Committee, to “disgorge” or give up the full $15 million they illegally received in “dark money.” The “disgorgement” comes in addition to the $1 million fine to be paid directly to the State’s General Fund.
CTA President Deal Vogel commended the action taken by the FPPC and the attorney general. “With their millions during the 2012 election cycle these rich special interests wanted to defeat the invaluable Proposition 30, which voters passed to stop billions in immediate cuts to our classrooms and to put the state back on the road to fiscal recovery. These forces also helped bankroll Prop. 32, which would have silenced the political voices of teachers, nurses and firefighters while giving billionaire businessmen even more power over working families. These fines send the clear message that democracy in California is alive and well and is not for sale.”
The passage of Proposition 30 and the defeat of Proposition 32 were critically important victories for our members. Proposition 30 is bringing more than $2.1 billion in desperately needed funding to K-14 classrooms. The defeat of Proposition 32 with its cynical “political regulations” that would have affected only teacher unions and other labor unions means that the voices of our members will continue to be heard locally, in Sacramento, and in Washington, D.C., where important decisions are made every day that affect our students.