Tax filings from a “dark money” organization run by an Arizona political consultant helped shed some light on the three-year old question of who funded a Republican redistricting group known as FAIR Trust.
The Center to Protect Patient Rights, a federal nonprofit that played a central role in an extensive web of dark money groups linked to the billionaire conservative Koch brothers, gave a $150,000 grant to FAIR Trust in 2012, according to documents the center filed with the IRS. The connection was first documented in a recent article by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative reporting organization.
Internal FAIR Trust documents and emails obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times also provide some insight into the group’s fundraising activities in 2011, during the height of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s and the trust’s activities.
In 2011, FAIR Trust formed to lobby the IRC. Throughout the year and into 2012, attorneys and other representatives of the group frequently attended and spoke at IRC meetings, often advocating in favor of changes that would favor Republicans. In 2012, the trust’s attorneys filed several lawsuits against the IRC, two of which revolved around allegations that the commission intentionally drew maps to favor Democrats.
Sean Noble, a GOP political consultant who ran the Center to Protect Patient Rights and other Koch-funded groups that spent tens of millions in the 2012 election cycle, said the $150,000 grant was the only money any of his groups gave to FAIR Trust.
“There was a need for additional legal action and it fit the kind of mission that CPPR has been involved in,” Noble told the Capitol Times.
Other documents provide at least a glimpse into FAIR Trust’s funding in 2011, during the apex of the IRC’s work. According to emails and other documents obtained by the Capitol Times, FAIR Trust in 2011 expected to spend $603,000 and held at least one fundraiser in September of that year.
In two internal budget documents dated July 13, 2011, FAIR Trust attorney David Cantelme tells trust organizer Steve Twist that the group had budgeted $433,000 for attorney fees and another $170,000 for experts and other expenses.
Whatever money FAIR Trust had raised at the time appeared to have not been enough. The trust held a September 2011 fundraiser at the home of former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, father of then-Congressman Ben Quayle. Documents from the fundraiser show that FAIR Trust asked fundraiser attendees to contribute anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
In an internal email, a FAIR Trust fundraising consultant said several Republican members of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation, both of the state’s U.S. senators, legislative leaders and trust attorneys were expected to attend the fundraiser.
The list of “confirmed guests” includes numerous CEOs and other influential figures, such as AREAD Corporation CEO Nariman Afkhami; Apollo Group executive Mark Brenner; Dr. Jeff Mueller of the Mayo Clinic; then-GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones; then-Arizona Association of Realtors CEO Tom Farley; Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod; and former IRC commissioner Jim Huntwork.
In another email, sent about a month before the fundraiser, a consultant said FAIR Trust was inviting people who had the ability to contribute at least $25,000. The invite list also included contributors who had already given $10,000 or more. The emails do not specify which attendees had already contributed.
Two FAIR Trust attorneys said they couldn’t comment on the budget documents, emails or fundraising, citing attorney-client privilege. They also wouldn’t comment on who has funded FAIR Trust since 2012.