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Report: Grand jury probes Koch brothers role in Calif. political funds

July 18, 2013 at 7:56 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, July 18 (UPI) -- A grand jury is investigating whether a political group linked to billionaires Charles and David Koch violated California campaign law, The Daily Beast said.

The report said the grand jury is looking at a political action committee and three out-of-state "dark-money" groups to see whether they illegally directed $11 million from secret donors to influence voting on 2012 ballot initiatives on raising the state income tax and restricting political spending by labor unions, the online news outlet reported Wednesday.

Citing two people familiar with the investigation who it did not identify, the report said the secret grand jury is part of a broader investigation being conducted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

The investigation has been under way since the fall, after the PAC -- the Small Business Action Committee -- filed a report in October 2012 indicating it spent $11 million on two ballot initiatives. The filing did not identify the donors, evidently in violation of a state law governing contributions to ballot initiative campaigns, The Daily Beast said.

The investigation is intended to determine the identities of the original donors.

Harris's office and the FPPC declined to comment on the report, the report said.

Jason Torchinsky, an attorney for the PAC and the three dark-money groups, also declined to comment.

One of the three dark-money groups is the Center to Protect Patient Rights, based in Arizona, and founded in 2009 by Sean Noble, who a GOP operative called "the wizard behind the screen" for the Koch brothers and donors who participate in their political operations, the report said.

The FPPC has called the funneling of the $11 million into the state campaigns "the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history."

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