How Rich: The Man Behind the Takings Initiatives

Diving into the world of campaign finance and investigating the funders of the takings initiatives quickly reveals a number of organizations involved: Americans for Limited Government, America at Its Best, the Fund for Democracy, and Montanans in Action. What is odd, though, is that with more digging, they all appear to be funded and controlled by the same individual: New York Developer Howard Rich.

Rich is a libertarian rightwing bigwig and he's got deep pockets. The relationships between these key funding organizations is complex and hidden by a conscious effort to cover Rich's tracks. In California, the funding for the takings initiative has come from the Fund for Democracy, which is directly controlled by Rich. Additional money has come from Montanans in Action (MIA), whose name appears to be modeled on the Oregon organization. MIA has received money from Americans for Limited Government, which is controlled by Rich, but refuses to disclose its donors. MIA is under investigation in Montana for refusing to release the names of its backers.

Montanans in Action is running its own campaigns -- to impose a TABOR-style spending cap and to gut land-use planning laws. Meanwhile, another Montana-based organization -- America at its Best -- contributed heavily to help the measure qualify in Idaho. America at its Best is also contributing to hard-right efforts in Nebraska (including a TABOR-style campaign) where the state's campaign finance laws have forced the organization to disclose that its funding comes virtually exclusively through Americans for Limited Government -- the Howard Rich controlled organization.

In other words, we have three organizations whose funding is entirely controlled by Rich and a fourth organization financially connected to Rich that is refusing to release the names of its donors. But what we know for sure is that this rich New Yorker "[t]hrough a web of backing eminent-domain initiatives in Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington with $4 million" according to Capitol Weekly.

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