By Jacob Chamberlain
Politico exposes quiet Koch outfit that operates as 'secret bank' for shadowy right-wing causes with hundreds of millions
A Politico exclusive published Thursday reveals for the first time that a highly secretive Virginia-based group serves as "the Koch brothers' secret bank," spending $250 million in 2012 alone "to shape political and policy debate nationwide."
According to Politico, Freedom Partners, the second largest "shadow money" group in the U.S., funnels money from the Koch brothers and other anonymous right-wing donors to fund numerous "shadow money" campaign groups such as American's for Prosperity, Center to Protect Patient Rights, and American Future Fund. Freedom Partners has been "cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes," the Politico investigation found.
Freedom Partners has largely flown under the radar until now, but the revelations of how it operates fills in a large piece of the puzzle behind the extensive and elusive money trails of right-wing political spending in the post-Citizens United world.
The group's 38-page IRS filing examined by Politico, "amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of conservative groups — some prominent, some obscure — that spend time, money and resources to influence public debate, especially over Obamacare."
As Politico reports:
The group has about 200 donors, each paying at least $100,000 in annual dues. It raised $256 million in the year after its creation in November 2011, the document shows. And it made grants of $236 million — meaning a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which together spent about $300 million. [...]Freedom Partners is organized under the same section of the Tax Code as a trade association, a 501(c)6, which allows the group to conceal its donors from public release, although the amounts and recipients of its major grants are public. [...]
Members are drawn from the Koch brothers’ semiannual conferences, a 10-year-old tradition that draws top politicians — including, last month, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Many seminar attendees also give directly to Koch-approved groups, and the Freedom Partners funds do not include the Kochs’ many gifts to university think tanks.