Opinion

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Closing Range

Welcome to Darkhashistan

The underground money game, where unlimited cash gets laundered through multiple amorphous entities

Last time, I groused about how a left-wing “dark-money watchdog group” had pulled off a beautiful and hypocritical propaganda “news” coup. As I expected, progressive Beacon readers whined, alleging I’d never gripe about right-wing dark money.

Wrong.

Did anyone see those “Call Steve Daines Right Now So You Can Get More Money In Your Middle-Class Pocket” television ads polluting your evening news, beginning just hours after Daines declared he wanted “tax reform” that gave smaller incorporated businesses a break, too?

Well, those ads lied about who will benefit from “reform.” Anyone with a lick of fiscal brainpower will tell you that Wall Street stands to make a short-term killing thanks to this corporate tax cut. Lower tax rates increase “effective rate of return” for each dollar invested, meaning investors will pay more, a lot more, for a given stock. Don’t bother trying to buy stock now – those who will rake off this one-time stock-price bonanza are already on board.

Don’t believe me? Well, should you believe the sponsor of the ad, 45Committee.com?

Who’s that? Well, their next-to-nothing website claims 45Committee “advocates for tax reform to promote jobs and tax relief for American families.” You won’t be surprised to know 45Committee’s web address was registered through GoDaddy in March of 2015. Who registered it and who pays the bills is, yep, “not available from registry.” How nice.

Might that matter? Well, the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reported in February that the 45Committee had already spent $4 million the first month of 2017, after what he wrote was “tens of millions” in 2015 and 2016. Drucker also revealed that 45committee is an IRS 501c4 “nonprofit” – meaning it doesn’t have to reveal its donors, even though it must submit a Form 990 tax return that is public record.

So, I scrounged up the only public record 45Committee legally must reveal: Its 2015 Form 990 return, which was not filed with the IRS until February 16, 2017, over a year after the last penny of $2.225 million was spent. Want to know what 45Committee dumped into the 2016 election? We’ll have to wait until February 2018, kids, and will never, ever learn who provided the cash.

Not all is lost, however: 45Committee’s board of directors is listed. Of seven, five were easily confirmed as former “name” Republican Party election operatives. In a comical small-world twist, director Randy Scheunemann is the D.C. Republican operative who got in the famed (or infamous) “chairlift fight” with local white racialist Richard Spencer.

Even better, it so happens that while 45Committee isn’t a Super PAC, it is joined at the hip to one. 45Committee shares its treasurer Maria Wojciechowski and a post office box in Herndon, Virginia with Future 45. Really small world!

Not so small, Future 45 blew through at least $24 million worth of ads against Hillary Clinton in 2016 – with Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson (and his wife Miriam) throwing down $20 million. The next biggest spender at a lousy $1 million was cheapskate Wall Street hedge fund baron J. Joe Ricketts – owner of the Chicago Cubs. Remember last time, one of the dark money high rollers I found owns the White Sox! Cool, a double rivalry! Matching Ricketts was wrestling baroness Linda McMahon, who today runs the Small Business Administration for the Trump administration. Keep in mind, until Daines bucked, there wasn’t much “tax reform” in the cards for small business, was there? Oh, the irony.

But that’s three people, chucking $22 million into the pot, and you have to wonder why? Remember, rich people get and stay rich by investing wisely.

I know it’s not nice to be so cynical this close to Christmas, but are the Beltway swamp crocodiles taking a break? Heck no.

One takeaway from all this is the fact that those associated with 45Committee, and I suspect Future 45, are former Republican party operatives. Now “independent,” they’re working the underground money game, where unlimited cash gets laundered through multiple amorphous entities, to be dumped anywhere voters need to be jerked around. Sounds a little like a corrupt Third World cesspool, doesn’t it? Welcome to Darkhashistan!

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