The Examiner received a tip about this story from one of our regular readers. We would like to say our jaws dropped, but when it comes to Robin Arkley, nothing really surprises us. The Daily Beast wrote an extremely well researched and in depth article which looked into the inner workings of unaccountable donations in elections. Not surprisingly, Arkley has played a big part in the national scene. We have highlighted some of the sections from the article, but we encourage all readers to take a look at the full story. Seriously, read the article.
This secret slush fund spending is what Arkley, and others have been doing at a national level. What kind of “dark money” do you think Robins been throwing around in these parts. Small amounts of money to Arkley, like $10k or $15k, could have major ramifications in elections here in Humboldt. Remember Measure R and the secrecy regarding the “No on R” donations?
From the Daily Beast:
It was a cold winter night in Washington, D.C., not long after President George W. Bush won a second term, and the mood at the upscale Italian restaurant was downright celebratory.
The most prominent guest was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but his table also boasted a mix of high-powered conservatives, including some deep-pocketed donors. Among the elite were Federalist Society executive Leonard Leo, fundraiser and lawyer Ann Corkery, and California real estate magnate Robin Arkley II. “The big prize was to sit next to Scalia,” quipped one attendee at the soiree, adding that Arkley was one such lucky winner.
As it happened, the bash coincided with the birth of a new judicial advocacy outfit that Corkery was instrumental in launching, and Arkley in funding, according to conservative sources familiar with the events. The Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN), set up as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group that doesn’t disclose its donors, would prove to be a crucial player in drumming up support for Bush Supreme Court nominees John Roberts Jr. and Samuel Alito Jr.—eventual allies for Scalia on the Court’s right flank……
The sharp rise in judicial election spending by JCN and other groups on both sides of the political aisle troubles some judicial candidates who have been targeted. “To the extent that judicial campaigns start looking like other campaigns, there’s a risk that judges will be perceived as having a political agenda,” Sam Ervin IV, a North Carolina Supreme Court justice, told The Daily Beast. Ervin, who was elected in 2014 and is the grandson of the celebrated senator who led Congress’s investigation of the Watergate scandal, lost an earlier race in 2012 after a spending blitz by several outside groups totaling almost $2.6 million, much of it dark money including $75,000 from JCN. “The public is better served, in an environment where judges are elected, if they know the source of the funding for those campaigns,” Ervin, a Democrat, added……
To fill its own coffers, JCN has increasingly relied on funding—to the tune of nearly $4 million, according to IRS documents—from another non-disclosing group, the Wellspring Committee, that’s run by Corkery and was founded seven years ago with the help of conservative donors in the network led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Corkery’s entree to that rarefied network came via JCN supporter Arkley, an early attendee of their famed retreats. And Ann Corkery and her husband, Neil—who is JCN’s treasurer—are central figures in a cluster of other nonprofits, according to IRS documents.
Robin Arkley, the president and CEO of Security National Corp. who had tapped Corkery to be his political liaison and senior advisor, became a key underwriter of JCN’s operations, to the tune of the high six or low seven figures, sources say. The pair went to some of the early fundraising and policy retreats held by the Kochs—events that now draw a glittering cast of wealthy allies and conservative stars to raise millions for the brothers’ network of politically active groups. Arkley was also a financial backer of the Federalist Society. “Arkley helped put Ann in play” as a liaison to funding for advocacy groups on the right, said one conservative….
Though Corkery’s most direct Koch ties frayed after the ’08 elections and Arkley’s wallet took a hit in the financial crisis, according to sources and reports, Corkery mined other big donors she’d been courting for Wellspring, such as John Templeton Jr., a Pennsylvania philanthropist, and New York hedge fund mogul Paul Singer, conservative sources said.
Ultimately JCN looks poised to continue its role as a dark money juggernaut in 2016 in state and federal elections—both directly and via allied dark money and 527 conduits. If JCN’s recent history proves a guide, that means voters going to the polls in 2016 will remain largely uninformed about who’s writing the network’s big checks for ad and grassroots drives to help elect the highest judicial and legal officers in the states, and senators who may well have to approve nominees to fill future Supreme Court vacancies.
Robert Maguire of the Center for Responsive Politics contributed to this piece