Very little is known about an Arizona-based nonprofit called Americans for Responsible Leadership - other than an $11 million contribution that's helping bankroll the opposition to Proposition 30, Gov. Brown's tax initiative. By being a nonprofit and not earmarking the money for a particular purpose (something that's hard to prove), the group does not have to reveal who its donors are. From the Sacramento Bee:
Staying anonymous has its advantages. Businesses may fear scaring off customers or becoming targets in a campaign, as oil and tobacco donors have in recent years. Individuals may want to avoid personal consequences. In 2008, for instance, donors to same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8 received angry emails and phone calls. "These donors are very wealthy people who are publicity-shy and have business interests," said Democratic strategist Steven Maviglio. "They don't want the spotlight on themselves because it could backfire." Maviglio worked on the 2010 campaign opposing Proposition 23, which attempted to reverse the state's tight greenhouse-gas restrictions. The Missouri-based Adam Smith Foundation gave $498,000 toward the measure. The group was organized by Missouri conservatives who refused to say where funds came from.
And just in case you think this is some right-wing phenomenon:
Left-leaning Consumer Watchdog has drawn criticism for cloaking donors while engaging in political activity, such as opposing Proposition 33 this year allowing insurers to offer discounts based on length of coverage. "They're a classic example of an organization carrying the water in all likelihood for trial lawyers but who never disclose their contributors," Stutzman said. The group's president, Jamie Court, said Consumer Watchdog does not fund its political activity with donations and relies instead on legal awards from successful cases against insurers.