Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Howie Rich's ALG operated illegally

The prime financial backer of Initiative 933, the extremist attack on environmental and land use laws in Washington state, is being accused of doing business despite lacking the legal authority to operate for a large portion of 2006.

At Postman on Politics, the ever intrepid David Postman notices a report from The Center for Public Integrity about Americans for Limited Government. Dedicated observers will recall that ALG is chaired by Howie Rich, a wealthy New York developer.

ALG has been by far the largest financial contributor to Initiative 933, the radical right's attempt to destroy environmental and land use laws in our state. From the Center for Public Integrity's Takings Initiative's Accountability Project--
A Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that has been bankrolling takings initiatives in more than a half-dozen Western states — including all five with measures on the ballot this November 7 — continued to dispense millions of dollars even after its authority to do business had been revoked by Illinois authorities.

The tax-exempt organization, Americans for Limited Government, Inc., has given at least $2.5 million this year to groups pushing the ballot initiatives. But much of this activity came during a period when it had no legal standing to operate from Illinois, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White revoked the nonprofit’s certificate of authority to do business in the state on February 1, 2006, citing its failure to file an annual report as required by law. The organization’s authority to do business in the state was not reinstated until September 22.

“Upon the issuance of the certificate of revocation,” Illinois law says, “the authority of the corporation to conduct affairs in this state shall cease and such revoked corporation shall not thereafter conduct any affairs in this state.”

In the eight months that Americans for Limited Government operated illegally in Illinois:
  • It was the largest donor ($892,000) to the Arizona HomeOwners Protection Effort, which is backing Proposition 207.
  • It was the largest donor ($168,778) to People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which is backing Question 2 in Nevada.
  • It was the largest donor ($260,000) to the Property Fairness Coalition, which is backing Initiative 933 in Washington state.
  • It was the largest donor (more than $2 million) to America at its Best, a tax-exempt organization in Virginia that was the second-largest donor to both This House Is MY Home, the chief proponent of Proposition 2 in Idaho, and Missourians in Charge, which backed a failed takings in that state.
As Postman notes, ALG also gave another $100,000 to the Property Fairness Coalition this month, after they presumably became legal again.

Of course, the real suckers in all this are the members of the Washington Farm Bureau, who have allowed themselves to be used as cover for secretive out of state corporations. If the Farm Bureau had a shred of decency they would disavow ALG and Rich and demand the $260,000 in suspect funds be returned.

The revelation that ALG felt free to thumb its nose at even the most basic of disclosure requirements, ie a basic corporate annual report, should rank as a significant event in the campaign against I-933. There's a lot of noise out there at the moment, though, so hopefully reporters can continue to look into ALG and their methods.

Don't Washington voters deserve to know who is financing the initiatives they are voting on?

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