The Adam Smith Foundation, a conservative, Jefferson City-based political nonprofit started by some of Matt Blunt's pals in 2007, just wrote a $498,000 check to California political cause Yes On 23, which is trying to stop California's tougher pollution regulations. Now a whole lot of people are asking questions of Adam Smith.
The mystery at the center of the uproar is why a political group that has never engaged in any action beyond the state border is suddenly sending oodles of cash out west.
Yes On 23 is a campaign group stockpiling money to promote Proposition 23, which would delay and alter the state's tough pollution laws soon to
take effect. It's a favorite cause of oil and coal companies because AB 32,
the law Yes On 23 wants to deep-six, puts strict regulations on
emissions, which energy companies (and people who enjoy electricity in
their homes) kinda put out a lot of. Los Angeles Times columnist Micheal
Hiltzik started asking questions a couple of weeks ago, and he
found some interesting
It seems highly suspicious that a foundation with barely
had enough cash to stuff a piggy bank -- $109.09 -- last December, only
four months before jettisoning the $498,000. Hiltzik implies that the coal industry's smeary black fingerprints are all over this
But the Adam Smith Foundation doesn't have to say who donated
the cash because the foundation is a 501(c)4. Their president, John
Elliott, did tell Hiltzik (and later, the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch) that the dough destined for Sacramento came
from "fewer than 10 individuals, not industry or corporations." Maybe
some of their loaded friends got juicy Christmas bonuses.
also seems odd that the folks at Adam Smith scrounged up half a mil for a
cause that has nothing to do with Missouri, while their in-state
generosity hasn't approached the levels of cash Yes On 23 stuffed its
coffers with. According to IRS filings, the group dished out grants
totaling $0, $2,000, and $6,500 in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. At
its peak, the foundation had revenues of $58,350 back in 2007.
more, Elliott says this is the first time that the Adam Smith Foundation
has ventured beyond the Show Me State to take political action. Hiltzik
summarizes the alarming situation aptly: "...the Adam Smith
Foundation looks like a bunch of (no offense!) nobodies
who couldn't find California with a road map until some people rolled up
with a tub filled with dollars but without the courage to donate the
money under their own names."
And politicians in California are leery of Yes On 23's
Springfield-sent cash infusion. State Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell
Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez are trying to get the feds
involved. They've asked Attorney General Eric Holder to look into
whether the Adam Smith Foundation broke the law by contributing big
money to Yes On 23. 501(C)4 organizations are only allowed to contribute to causes directly related to their core
Depending on how one reads the foundation's self-described
purpose-- "promoting conservative principles and individual liberties
in Missouri" -- those last two words could cause them a lot of trouble if Holder comes sniffing around.