Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I'm Shocked, I tell you! David Cantelme lied? Connecting some DOTS with UNFair Trust

In July 2011, UNFair Trust lobbyist and mouthpiece David Cantelme and I had an interesting exchange.
So, when I first asked Cantelme about the "UNfair trust" he accused me of using epithets. LOL.  "Unfair trust" is a swear word?  Boy was he testy.  And it went downhill from there.  Cantelme VOWED that I would NEVER find out who was behind this group.
Apparently, "never" only lasted until February 2014. In a ProPublica story about Koch brothers' Dark Money and Arizona's own Sean Noble (former staffer for former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg), we learn:
But with Noble as ringmaster, Koch money also poured into efforts that didn’t surface until long after Election Day: To a political committee backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker against a recall attempt; to a group blaming President Obama for high gas prices; even to a legal challenge to Arizona’s redistricting plan.  (emphasis mine)
The in-depth reporting by ProPublica cites evidence that money reported to the IRS as having been granted for "social welfare" purposes was extensively used exclusively for political campaign purposes, including advertisements (propaganda). In other words, Arizona's own Sean Noble, tool of the Dark Money monster known as "Kochtopus," may have knowingly committed tax fraud and/or violations of the Internal Revenue Code. Which boils down to money laundering.

However, according to the ProPublica investigation,
“The grantor is responsible for how the grants are used because it’s the grantor’s money,” said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a law professor and associate dean at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in nonprofits and campaign finance.
If a grant is improperly administered, the group that gave it could become the subject of an IRS audit.
It appears, however, that the primary defense being raised to avoid accountability for the illegal (tax evasion) activities by the Kochtopus is to viciously attack the Obama administration with accusations of using the IRS to punish political enemies. This fake controversy strategy directly parallels the efforts of Tea Party astroturf operators to subvert the work of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2011. With background on the role played by UNFair Trust in blog posts from August 2011 here and here and here.

More from ProPublica's investigation:
The Center’s [Noble's Center to Protect Patient Rights] involvement in a contentious Arizona redistricting fight was also not known – until now.  It provided $150,000 to a group called FAIR Trust—described as the “Fair AZ Independent Redistrict” on the Center’s tax return—which hired lawyers to sue Arizona’s redistricting commission in April 2012 to challenge new legislative and congressional districts. The Trust, which also sent lawyers to commission meetings, has repeatedly refused to identify its backers.
“Without knowing who they were representing, you couldn’t really fairly evaluate what they were saying,” said Linda C. McNulty, a Democratic member of the commission. “They clearly were doing somebody’s bidding, but they wouldn’t say whose it was.”
David Cantelme, one of the lawyers who represents the Trust, said he couldn’t talk about who hired him and had no information about the grant from the Center. 
Based on an anonymous tip, the Arizona Eagletarian reported in February 2011 (just before the selection of Colleen Mathis to be chair of the redistricting commission) that,
The Arizona Eagletarian heard that a meetup took place yesterday (Feb 22) at the home of  Arizona Diamondbacks owner/general partner Ken Kendrick.  The purpose of the meetup was to discuss, from the rep'lican (extreme right-wing) perspective, the upcoming redistricting process and what to expect. 
 ProPublica's investigation connects that dot with Sean Noble and UNFair Trust thus,
At some point, Noble met Randy Kendrick, a lawyer by training who was on the board of the Goldwater Institute, a bastion of libertarian thought in the West. Kendrick and her husband, an owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, were big Shadegg donors.  (The Huffington Post wrote about Kendrick and Noble in 2013.)
In spring 2009, when it became clear that Obama was pursuing a national health-care law, Kendrick turned to Noble for help defeating it. Noble had recently left Shadegg’s office to launch a consulting firm, Noble Associates, out of his Phoenix home.
“Sean got hooked up with Randy,” a prominent Arizona Republican said in an interview. “He became her local guy to manage everything. He became her political consultant.”
Kendrick was also close to the Koch brothers. “Randy Kendrick is in the inner circle of the Koch brothers’ network,” a Republican consultant told ProPublica, adding that she pushed the Kochs to back a new group targeting Obama’s health-care plan. As for Noble, “I think they liked the fact that he hadn’t been a political consultant before.”
Thanks and a hat tip to Mitch Martinson at Arizona's Politics blog for connecting a few more dots regarding Sean Noble and for publishing a copy of the IRS Form 990 for one of Noble's Dark Money entities.

Where I had speculated in the summer of 2011 about the role of Nathan Sproul, it turns out the "bag man" for the Kochs was Sean Noble. That (and this) doesn't rule out Sproul, but we do now have more information and at least a little bit more clear picture of the connections behind the Dark Money scheme that has played out over the last three years.

In fact, the trial in Harris v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which finished about six weeks shy of one year ago now (at the end of March 2013) which was apparently funded to some extent by the Kochs by way of Sean Noble, still has not yielded a final ruling.

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