Monday, August 30, 2010

Missouri's Adam Smith Foundation raises eyebrows with $500K donation to stop tougher California pollution laws

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 3:55 PM

click to enlarge Springfield's Adam Smith Foundation found plenty of cash for a California cause.
  • Springfield's Adam Smith Foundation found plenty of cash for a California cause.

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

stuff.

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

money.

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.

But it

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.

Further

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

missions.

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.

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