SECRET OUT OF STATE DONORS POURING $$ MILLIONS INTO CA ELECTIONS ARE ORDERED TO ID THEMSELVES (NOTE: UPDATE AT END)
A large last minute elections drama continues to unfold after the California Supreme Court ordered an Arizona group attempting to influence the outcome of two of the state’s ballot proposition races to hand over its donor records. The group has funneled $11 million into campaigns to defeat Governor Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30, and to pass Prop. 32, both ballot propositions that could have a large effect on the state’s future. In the hope of stalling any such revelations until after Tuesday’s election, the AZ group has appealed to the US Supreme Court.
The LA Times’ Chris Megerian and Maura Dolan are following this still-developing story. Here’s a clip from their report:
An Arizona group was scrambling late Sunday to keep secret the individuals behind its $11-million donation to a California campaign fund after California’s Supreme Court, in a rare and dramatic weekend action, ordered it to turn over records that could identify the donors.
The order followed days of frenzied legal battles between California regulators, who have tried to get documents related to the anonymous contribution before election day, and attorneys for the Arizona nonprofit who have resisted delivering them.
The showdown continued into the night Sunday, with no records produced nearly seven hours after the justices’ late-afternoon deadline. Lawyers for the nonprofit said they were trying to comply even as they rushed to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to halt to the audit.
The $11 million went to a committee that is fighting tax increases proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in Proposition 30 and promoting an initiative that could limit political spending by unions, Proposition 32. The donation has been among the most controversial moves of this election season, with Brown railing against the “shadowy” contributors at campaign appearances.
The case, which has the potential to reshape a growing sector of political giving, has put California at the forefront of a national debate over concealed political donations. Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which initially sued the Arizona group, called the California high court’s decision historic.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: This morning, there was a whip-lash-producing about face by Americans for Responsible Leadership, the nobody’s-ever-heard-of-them AZ nonprofit that had funneled $11 million into what are arguably CA’s two most important ballot proposition races—32 (they wanted YES) and 30 (pushing for NO votes). Surprising everyone, this morning the nonprofit dropped its move of last night to try to get a stay from SCOTUS in order to avoid having to reveal its secret donors.
Now that the secret has been revealed, we see one of the two reasons the AZ folks likely stopped fighting. (The first reason was probably that their lawyers advised them that they were not going to win the battle, since—as corporation-friendly though SCOTUS might at times seem to be—even the court’s most conservative justices are loath to trample on state laws when they differ from federal laws, which is the case here. [See above clip.])
However, reason number 2 was perhaps more to the point. By revealing their list of donors, Americans for Responsible Leadership, looked like they were cooperating but….revealed exactly NOTHING. Zero. Zip. Nada.
As with a set of nesting Russian dolls, when one opens doll number one and looks inside one finds…..more dolls. (Another analogy might be a series of secret offshore bank accounts that some types of….um….investors use when they want to
launder obscure the provenance of large piles of money. But I digress.)
Anyway, the donors to the nonprofits are—ta da!—more nonprofits (as the LA Times story on the topic points out).
KPCC’s Julie Small reports that, to be specific, the AZ money came from Virginia-based Americans for Job Security (after first passing through yet another AZ nonprofit called the Center to Protect Patient Rights). Americans for Job Security, Small learned, is headed up by Stephen DeMaura, “a former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party.”
Then with a bit more searching Small found this:
An online search reveals that Americans for Job Security shares an address in Alexandria with Crossroads Media, which is a top media buyer for Republican candidates and causes. Its clients include Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads, a political action committee co-founded by Karl Rove.
Just so you know.
UPCOMING ELECTION DAY AND FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT
Almost six million Americans convicted of felonies—half of whom have served their sentences—will be banned from voting on Tuesday. That number is made even higher by eligible voters that are sometimes turned away by election officials who have misinterpreted the law.
The NY Times editorial thinks we should take another look at this outdated practice. Here’s how it opens:
The United States maintains a shortsighted and punitive set of laws, some of them dating back to Reconstruction, denying the vote to people who have committed felonies. They will bar about 5.85 million people from voting in this year’s election.
In the states with the most draconian policies — including Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia — more than 7 percent of the adult population is barred from the polls, sometimes for life.
Nationally, nearly half of those affected have completed their sentences, including parole or probation.
Policies that deny voting rights to people who have paid their debt to society offend fundamental tenets of democracy. But the problem is made even worse by state and local election officials so poorly informed about the law that they misinform or turn away people who have a legal right to vote.
LAUSD AND PARTNERS RECEIVE GRANT MONEY TO HELP KIDS DEALING WITH TRAUMA
The LAUSD, together with UCLA, USC, the Rand Corp. and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, recently received a grant of $2.4 million to further their work with students who have been exposed to trauma.
The LA Times’ Marisa Gerber has the story. Here’s a clip:
The grant is the latest in an ongoing partnership among the district, UCLA, USC, the Rand Corp. and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a group of trauma centers funded within the Department of Health and Human Services.
L.A. Unified and its partners used the first chunk of money from the network in 2003 to do exploratory work about students and trauma.
A study that year found that more than 60% of local sixth-graders had witnessed more than one event that exposed them to trauma, said Pia Escudero, who directs L.A. Unified’s mental health and crisis counseling services.
By the way, look for our take-to-the-poll voting recommendation list Tuesday morning (full list of endorsements here).
Photo by: 401K 2012 / Flickr – licensed through Creative Commons