A state investigation into a network of nonprofit groups that funneled $11 million into initiative campaigns in California last year has revealed the identities of dozens of previously hidden donors to the various organizations.
Those contributors include owners of the Gap Inc., for which California First Lady Anne Gust Brown was once a top executive, investor Charles Schwab and Los Angeles Philanthropist Eli Broad. The groups they donated to gave money to other organizations, which gave to the campaigns.
One of the campaigns was an effort to derail a 2012 tax measure pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown — which Broad had said he supported. The other supported a separate initiative that would have limited the power of labor unions to raise political cash.
An investigation by state officials found the Virginia-based nonprofit group Americans for Job Security illegally moved money through three other groups into a California campaign committee in a deliberate attempt to conceal donors’ identities.
The Fisher family, which owns the Gap, gave more than $9 million to Americans for Job Security. Gust Brown formerly was the company’s chief administrative officer.
San Francisco investor Schwab gave more than $6.2 million to the same group. Broad gave $1 million despite his stated support for higher taxes on the wealthy.
Americans for Job Security sent $11 million to the Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights, an Arizona nonprofit. From there, the same amount was sent to Americans for Responsible Leadership, another Arizona group, before landing in a single campaign committee that worked to defeat the governor’s tax measure, Proposition 30, and pass Proposition 32, a measure that would have limited the political power of labor unions. The committee failed in both efforts.
Calls to Broad, Schwab and the Fishers seeking comment were not returned.