Secrecy Shrouds Conservative PAC Pouring Money Into State Races
by Lachlan Markay, DailyBeast
A pair of Ohio lawmakers are waging legal battles against a secretive super PAC pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money into a handful of statehouse contests around the country. Documentation obtained exclusively by PAY DIRT sheds new light on how the group’s sole funder has attempted to navigate federal tax and election laws in an effort to keep the sources of that money secret.
The Conservative Alliance PAC (CAPAC) is currently facing lawsuits from Ohio state representative Larry Householder, the statehouse’s former speaker, and Jim Trakas, a candidate for the state’s sixth house district. Both say they were defamed by CAPAC, charges the group denies. Householder’s lawsuit remains in Perry County, Ohio, while Trakas’s has been moved to a federal court in the state.
Both lawsuits also name a number John Does as defendants, since it’s not entirely clear who is behind the group. CAPAC’s address is a P.O. box in Alexandria, Virginia, and its treasurer is Chris Marston, a Virginia election compliance attorney who is popular among conservative dark money-backed political groups. Marston has signed all of the group’s Federal Communications Commission paperwork for its broadcast advertisements, and received court summonses for the Householder and Trakas lawsuits.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, CAPAC has received all of its money—more than $750,000—from a single source: a dark money group called Prosperity Alliance Inc. It’s used that money to buy attack ads and mailers in statehouse contests in Ohio and Oklahoma. Prosperity Alliance was incorporated in Virginia in May, and lists its address as a P.O. box in Washington. Its sole listed employee, Tyler Conner, is also the treasurer of a South Carolina-focused super PAC that’s received about 87% of its money this cycle from a pair of dark money groups. Conner did not respond to multiple messages left at the Google Voice number he lists in IRS documentation.