By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Last week, the Alabama Political Reporter received a copy of a fundraising invitation for the Alabama Republican House Caucus. It’s not the final card, but the “printer’s proof.” The document’s creator’s name is recorded on the left-hand margin of the card: “KKoellsted.” That is Kimberly Koellsted, who works at Craftmaster Printers, Inc., owned by Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Hubbard has a proven pattern of funneling money from political organizations he controls to businesses he owns. This appears to be another occasion when Hubbard’s business interests benefit from his political power.
The Alabama Republican House Caucus is registered as a non-profit 501(c), a charitable organization. Such foundations have become a part of the growing use of “Dark Money” to fund partisan political activities. Dark money can be defined as money that is received from un-disclosed donors to promote a political agenda.
The invitation printed at Craftmaster was for a fundraiser held in Prattville in October. The Foundation offered sponsorship levels at Platinum $5000, Gold $2500 and Silver $1000. It also informs participants that donations are accepted from “corporations, individuals and political actions committees.”
During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers enacted a law that allowed for unlimited transfers between these so-called non-partisan, non-profits foundations. These mimic the PAC-to-PAC transfers that the ALGOP said they banished in 2010. Yet, these secret groups use there tax-exempt status to raise untold amounts of funds to be used later for partisan proposes.
Saying that a foundation known as the Alabama Republican House Caucus would be anything but partisan, would defy belief. Since the takeover of the State House by the ALGOP, lobbyists have complained that Hubbard used these foundations as a tool to blackmail them. Several lobbyists who refused to be named for fear of retribution have said, that Hubbard demands tribute to his foundations before any lobbyist’s bill is heard before the Republican-controlled House.
During the 2013 session, Republican Sen. Bryan Taylor from Prattville opened the floodgates that allowed foundations to transfer unlimited funds and foster the use of Dark Money in campaigns. The section of SB445 reads in part, “to clarify the entities subject to the ban on PAC to PAC transfers so as not to prohibit private foundations from making non-political donations to other private foundations.”
These foundations, unlike PACs, do not have to report the identity of their donors or their expenditures.
While every Republican Senator voted for the bill, one said privately after the vote,
“This is bad…I see a day coming when these foundations run the government and no one will have any idea who they are.”