Who Donated $11 Million to Proposition 30?

On the off chance that there are still a few people out there looking for something to read about other than the explosions in Boston, here’s an interesting story for you. But first the backstory.

Last year, Californians voted on Proposition 30, a ballot initiative to raise taxes. (It passed.) As you’d expect, Prop 30 attracted plenty of opposition within the state, but as you might not expect, it also attracted a huge amount of opposition from outside the state. In particular, an organization called Americans for Responsible Leadership donated a stunning $11 million to oppose both Prop 30 and Prop 32 (a union busting initiative). But who was behind ARL? Therein hangs a story. Here is Andy Kroll writing on the day before the November elections:

Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona nonprofit that made the $11 million donation, had refused demands by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission to name its donors. So the state watchdog sued ARL, and judges agreed that ARL needed to fess up. ARL relented Tuesday, but its response is far from satisfying: ARL’s $11 million originally came from…another shadowy group called Americans for Job Security, which is run out of an office in Alexandria, Virginia. To complicate matters more, Americans for Job Security had funneled the $11 million through a third nonprofit, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, before it finally landed in ARL’s coffers.

Did you get that? The money was funneled from AJS to CPPR to ARL. So when, after losing a relentless, scorched-earth court battle, ARL was finally forced to reveal the source of the money, they had the last laugh. It was just another anonymous organization. You can almost hear the smirks.

But guess what? California is still fighting to get the names of the donors. Here’s Andy today:

As the probe progresses, some conservatives are nervous that more details—such as the identities of actual donors—could be publicized. “This case has got very, very deep and significant implications,” says a conservative lobbyist with knowledge of the investigation. “A lot of folks are going to have their dirty laundry hung out, and it’s not going to be pretty. Why would money go through such a circuitous route if not to conceal the donors?”

And the FPPC isn’t done. Investigators recently issued a dozen more subpoenas to individuals and nonprofits in connection with the case, the Huffington Post reported….After initially balking, the nonprofits are now cooperating with investigators.

Read the rest for a few guesses about who’s involved with this. And stay tuned for more. This could get interesting.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.