Wisconsin Money Laundering?
Hiroshima Day seems as good a day as any to drop a bomb. [Note: written on August 6.]
James and Eric O’Keefe, from the Right Online 2011 Dinner in Minneapolis (the
competing “convention” to the Netroots Nation — formerly Daily Kos — Convention
that Andrew Breitbart crashed in Mid-June, at the height of his ‘Weiner Attack.’
(via Gateway Pundit, who states “no relation.”)
According to the hub web site, watchdog.org is the brainchild of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a 5o1(c)3 non-profit organization “dedicated to promoting new media journalism.”
However, those “journalism” credentials have been called into question by groups like the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which rates watchdog.org as being “highly ideological” and “somewhat transparent.” The site has one editor, Steven Allen Adams, a stringer for Reuters and a contributor to a West Virginia entertainment news web site called Kanawha Valley Live that, sadly, closed operations in April.
The Franklin Center has well-established ties to right-wing groups, including the Sam Adams Alliance (SAA), which originally funded the organization. In addition to running partisan web sites, Franklin Center also funds partisan polls.
SAA, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, also has a litany of tries to the Kochs to the extent that the two groups function with a singular purpose. CEO Eric O’Keefe helped create American Majority, a Tea Party-candidate training organization. O’Keefe has attempted to take credit for being the architect of the entire Tea Party movement, and he once worked for Citizens for Congressional Reform, a project of David Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy….
Regular readers will know that I’ve tracked the Sam Adams Alliance from its early days in October of 2006, when the Americans for Limited Government’s “board” moved, en masse to the mysterious “Sam Adams Alliance” and cut all ties to ALG — which had been exposed as the money behind dozens of initiative drives in dozens of states, all funded by three mysterious donors. Through their “internet trainings” and the “Sammies” and their bobble-head giveaways at CPAC. How former ALG President, then SAA President John Tillman became the President of Golf, Illinois and the principal at the “Illinois Policy Institute” which was purchased and tenfold refunded, with the original founder dropping out and forming his own, new policy institute.
I will go much further into the media machine that the Sam Adams Alliance has built SINCE that day in 2006, but for today, I want to focus on how the Kochtopus strikes at a target, and I will tell you something about Eric O’Keefe and his wife that explains a lot.
The Sam Adams Alliance 990 (the publicly available IRS tax return) has this interesting explanation on page 29 of the return:
Schedule 0 (Form 990) 2009 Page 2
Name of the organization THE SAM ADAMS ALLIANCE
ON JULY 1, 2009, THE SAM ADAMS ALLIANCE(SAMIS) ENTERED INTO A CONTRACT WITH LUCY BURNS INSTITUTE (LBI) WHICH PROVIDED LBI WITH SPONSORSHIP OF BALLOTPEDIA AND JUDGEPEDIA. THESE WIKIS EVOLVED INTO RICH PLATFORMS WHICH NO LONGER FIT WITH SAM’S CORE AREAS OF EXPERTISE, AND ALLOWED LBI TO EXPAND ITS SPECIALIST INTEREST IN ORGANIZING AND PRESENTING INFORMATION ABOUT STATE GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND LAWS USING A WIKI FORMAT. ERIC O’KEEFE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE SAM ADAMS ALLIANCE. HE IS MARRIED TO LESLIE GRAVES, THE PRESIDENT OF THE LUCY BURNS INSTITUTE. ERIC O’KEEFE RECEIVES NO FINANCIAL BENEFITS OR SALARY FROM HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE SAM ADAM ALLIANCE AND HE DID NOT RECIEVE ANY FINANCIAL BENEFITS OR SALARY RELATED TO THE TRANSFER OF SPONSORSHIP. LESLIE GRAVES RECEIVED NO FINANCIAL BENEFITS OR SALARY FROM THE LUCY BURNS INSTITUTE IN 2009 AND RECEIVED NO FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF ANY KIND FROM THE TRANSFER OF SPONSORSHIP OF BALLOTPEDIA AND JUDGEPEDIA TO THE LUCY BURNS INSTITUTE.
Translated into standard Upper and Lowercase, it says:
Schedule 0 (Form 990) 2009 Page 2
Name of the organization THE SAM ADAMS ALLIANCE
On July 1, 2009, the Sam Adams Alliance (SAM’S)[sic] entered into a contract with Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) which provided LBI with sponsorship of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia. These wikis evolved into rich platforms which no longer fit with SAM’S [sic] core areas of expertise, and allowed LBI to expand its specialist interest in organizing and presenting information about state government policies and laws using a wiki format. Eric O’Keefe is the president of the Sam Adams Alliance. He is married to Leslie Graves, the president of the Lucy Burns Institute. Eric O’Keefe receives no financial benefits or salary from his association with the Sam Adam [sic] Alliance and he did not recieve any financial benefits or salary related to the transfer of sponsorship. Leslie Graves received no financial benefits or salary from the Lucy Burns Institute in 2009 and received no financial benefits of any kind from the transfer of sponsorship of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia to the Lucy Burns Institute.
Glad to know THAT. (You might recall that Eric O’Keefe is also one of three board members and founders of Club for Growth, Wisconsin, etc. See “Who Is Behind Wisconsin Club For Growth?“)
And, of course, on page 31, it says this:
Form 990 – Federal General Footnote
FORM 990, SCHEDULE B
TAX YEAR 2009
PART I – STATEMENT OF CONTRIBUTORS
THE ORGANIZATION DECLINES TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC IDENTIFYING INFORMATION ON ITS DONORS ON THE GROUNDS THAT SUCH DISCLOSURE MAY CHILL THE DONORS’ FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO ASSOCIATE IN PRIVATE WITH THE ORGANIZATION. NAACP v. ALABAMA, 357 U.S. 449 (1958); INTERNATIONAL UNION UAW v. NATIONAL RIGHT TO WORK, 590 F. 2D 1139, 1152 (D.C. CIR. 1978). WHILE THE OTHER REQUIRED INFORMATION IS BEING PROVIDED ON THIS SCHEDULE B, ACTUAL IDENTITIES HAVE BEEN PROTECTED BY ASSIGNING A NUMBER TO EACH DONOR LISTED.
Now, it’s also interesting that even though Eric O’Keefe and Leslie Graves live in Spring Green, Wisconsin, her “Institute” is in Madison, Wisconsin, and his “Alliance” is in Chicago, Illinois.
And, there’s a reason that I can only get as recent as 2009, which is that universally (and seemingly intentionally) all of these related organizations file their tax returns in November of the following year, which is the maximum amount that a “charity” can ask for without very good reason. 2010’s SAA return probably won’t be filed until November of 2010.
This is very advantageous when you’re contributing to political causes (the election is a year later by the time the return is filed).
Highlighted from page 19 in the .pdf of the 2009 return
Note that the “lobbying” cash isn’t necessarily the money
spent in support of a “Terms Limit” initiative in Oklahoma.
O’Keefe hasn’t been a board member of US Term Limits, but in 2006 old pal Paul Jacob was President of USTL (page 8), and the offices were located exactly where the Sam Adams Alliance’s offices were in 2008.
But then, Sam Adams Foundation (not to be confused with the “alliance” which is at the same address, officers, phones, etc.) completely bought all the U.S. Term Limits Foundation (ditto) office furniture and fixtures:
They must have tossed in Paul Jacob with the deal, because, in 2008, the Sam Adams Alliance paid Paul Jacob $106,500 (page 7):
Paul Jacob, $106,500 as an employee of Sam Adams Alliance in 2008
Oh, and here’s some fun trivia: Joe Lehman is President of
the Mackinac Institute in Michigan. Google the other names for surprises!
And, in that same return, the Sam Adams Alliance paid Leslie Graves $60,000 (page 25):
This is interesting, of course. But what is more interesting is the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity located in Bismarck, North Dakota. As Truthout notes, “sponsored” (i.e. set up) by the Sam Adams Alliance. Because, after that long-winded denial of financial interest, etc. in the 2009 Franklin Center tax return (the only return filed, thus far), we find these “grants” (passed along from the mysterious funders) to various state “media” startups:
“The Lucy Burns Institute is non-profit and non-partisan, and was founded in December 2006. We’re based in Madison, Wisconsin,” chirps their website.
Interesting to watch the money flow from Eric O’Keefe’s Chicago SAA to Bismarck, North Dakota and back to Leslie Graves’ Madison LBI, when they could just as easily have passed it across the bedroom, from one night stand to the other.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve caught these two running money across the bed via very circuitous routes. In 2006, I caught them running Americans for Limited Government money through a group in Idaho/Montana “America At Its Best” back to pay for Nebraska petition circulators run by a company running out of an Omaha, Nebraska mailbox. As I reported and the Omaha World Herald Confirmed, the “petition gathering company” was owned and operated by Leslie Graves, wife of then ALG Board Chair Eric O’Keefe. See:
Remember what Truthout said about Eric O’Keefe?
O’Keefe helped create American Majority, a Tea Party-candidate training organization. O’Keefe has attempted to take credit for being the architect of the entire Tea Party movement
Here’s the Headline of the Omaha World-Herald‘s story on August 27, 2006 (nearly a month later), and the pertinent excerpt:
Petition’s origins tied to at least nine states
BY NICHOLE AKSAMIT AND PAUL GOODSELL
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS
Leslie Graves, who is married to [Eric] O’Keefe, started Renewal Voter Outreach, the company that was paid $1.4 million to gather signatures on the Nebraska petitions.
Graves is no stranger to petition drives. The Spring Green, Wis., woman ran signature-collecting efforts to put third-party candidates on the ballot in the 1970s and 1980s, including Libertarian Ed Clark for president in Nebraska….
(She started RVO in the spring of that year.)
The money had gone from New York to Chicago, to Montana, to Nebraska, and back to Leslie Graves in Spring Green, Wisconsin. $1.4 million worth. So $43,412.56 is probably just chicken feed to her. But it is a disquieting political pattern
And, just to keep it all in the family, the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program supplies paid personnel to pretty much everyone discussed herein. Here’s who’s listed at the Koch program webpage:
- Lucy Burns Institute
- Sam Adams Alliance
- Americans for Limited Government
- Illinois Policy Institute
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Cato Institute
CATO Institute head honcho and ALG & USTL Board member
Ed Crane at the wingding with Howie (see below)
- John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy
- Heartland Institute
You might remember MacIver from their “coverage” of the Madison protests. (“Water, Tea or Koch?” 20 Feb 2011) Or, you may recall the “Sammies” that the Sam Adams Alliance puts on annually. Note their LOVE of painted buses:
Speaking of which, Eric Odom, who was Eric O’Keefe’s employee at Sam Adams Alliance when he started the first “Tea Party” website on the day of Rick Santelli’s jeremiad on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange* now works for ANOTHER for profit tea party bunch, “Grassfire Nation,” and is ON the bus tour by the Tea Party Express and Tea Party Nation (two more for-profit “tea party” groups — see “The Astroturf on Lambeau Field” 3 August 2011):
from Eric Odom reply-to Eric Odom <[email protected]****> to **** date Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 6:47 AM
Tea Party Plans EPIC Showdown in Wisconsin
For the next four days I’ll be on the Tea Party Express bus providing live updates as the Wisconsin tour progresses. Why would the Tea Party Express be touring Wisconsin this weekend? Well, because the Tea Party Movement is staring down an absolutely EPIC political confrontation with powerful state and national unions.
In case you haven’t heard, the unions aren’t happy about Scott Walker’s fiscally responsible bill aimed at limiting their ability to create an unsustainable budget crises. The unions lost their fight with the taxpayers, so now they’re trying to reverse the will of the voters by recalling six state senators who supported the Governor.
More than $14 MILLION has flowed into the political battle, most of it coming from powerful national unions such as the AFL-CIO. The Tea Party Express is fighting back. You can read my first two posts about it here and here. I’ll be posting more on CampaignTrailReport.com and you can follow my updates on Twitter here.
Even as the tea party nation “founder” absurdly claims that “a billion” people have been killed by “liberal ideology” on their Wisconsin astroturf bus tour.
So, now you begin to see how the Kochtopus attacks: when one tentacle is stymied, another takes up the fight (see Club for Growth Wisconsin mutate into Americans for Prosperity — the latter of whom, ironically, DON’T get any Charles Koch Summer Fellows). When they are uncovered (as with Americans for Limited Government in 2006), they vanish in a cloud of ink.*
(* As when ALG “spun off” Sam Adams Alliance, who were “gifted” with all the US Term Limits furniture and office equipment, but nobody ever moved from their desks. Heather Wilhelm, who was at that Wacker address, doing “media” interviews for Americans for Limited Government, was suddenly with the Sam Adams Alliance doing more or less the same thing, without ever moving a single photo on her desk. See: “Objective Journalism (concluded)part ii. Martin Luther King in Oklahoma” 30 July 2006)
And, while we’re all chasing this one, Joseph Bast at the Heartland Institute (who ALSO gets Koch Summer Fellows to staff their offices) is in the midst of another phony attack on climate science using a “peer-reviewed” paper out of a “pay-to-play” set of scientific journals in Switzerland that costs you 500 Swiss Francs to submit your paper. Not exactly Science or the Journal of Atmospheric Studies, is it?
It’s intentionally complicated, and every possible rule is stretched to the breaking point. Sometimes they even step over the line.
But it’s the same bunch with the same policy ends.
Sam to Franklin to Lucy.
And it’s never simple. It’s complicated, because people aren’t interested in complicated, and reporters — seemingly — even moreso.
But it is money laundering in the best linguistic sense of the term. (Lawyers … they inhabit another multiverse.) And it’s reached a fever pitch this week in Wisconsin. Wonder HOW MANY Koch groups are working the voters, all told? Anyway.
And another bomb dropped.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.