Knowing Rick Hill’s $500,000 donation came from the Republican Governors Association doesn’t change the basic story. Hill willingly disregarded the limits passed by Montana voters and took money from an anonymous, out-of-state donor, funneled through the state Republican Party to look like Montana money.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) gave $685,000 to the Montana Republican Party within a day of the party’s donation to Hill. In total, the association has given $1,085,000 to the state party, providing 85 percent of the party’s state funding for the last two years.
It is unlikely to ever discover the exact source of the money that went to Hill. Last week, the Center for Public Integrity published two excellent articles about the RGA’s network of state PACs, all registered using the same Washington, DC, address. By shuffling money between state PACs, the RGA is able to skirt most disclosure laws. In 2010, Pennsylvania Common Cause Executive Director Barry Kauffman called it “an elaborate money-laundering scheme, which is legal.”
For instance, the RGA uses its Wisconsin PAC to keep its donors anonymous, since Wisconsin law only requires PACs to list their in-state donors. Some states allow PACs to accept corporate contributions, while the RGA gives millions directly to candidates in states like Illinois and Virginia, which allow corporate contributions.
It may be impossible to know the exact source of Hill’s donation, but the Center for Responsive Politics maintains a database of the RGA’s donors. The top four:
- Koch Industries
- Various Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies
- Texas homebuilder Bob Perry
- Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Sands